Cainntear wrote:If you think about it, most of the arbitrary, near-meaningless terminology we used was just a simple description of the meaning in Latin. "Accusative" means something along the lines of "done-to (adjective)"; "dative" is "given-to (adjective)"; heck, even "adjective" seems to just be an adjective meaning something like "stuck on" (compare "inject", to "stick in").
The Romans picked these terms to make it easier for learners.
Exactly. They picked them, made it easier, so why not stick to what works?
Take a step back and think again about what both of us have said.
I said: the Latin terminology was invented because it was meaningful in Latin, and thus made it easier. I wasn't explicit enough, but when I said it made it easier, I meant it made it easier for Latin speakers
because the words were meaningful to them.
Using Latin terms does absolutely nothing to make learning easier for people who don't speak Latin.
The problem is not whether the roman or another terminology wins, the problem is mixing several of them at once.
That is a
I completely understand that many people feel that the benefits of having a single universal set of terms outweighs the disadvantages of the specific terms chosen, and I actually agree with that myself (hence why I teach mostly standard terminology in my own classes).
But that conclusion does not change the fact that the Latin terms are intrinsically meaningless to speakers of almost all modern languages, and do more to confuse than to clarify.
As Shakespeare wrote: "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet"
That's hardly equivalent. "Rose" is a word you will use throughout your life. We do not teach language learners the word "subjunctive" so that they can use the word, but rather as a by-product of teaching them the concept. We don't care if in the end they forget the word, because that's not the point. Rose is a word for its own sake.
No, that's not what is happening. If the one prevailing terminology was based on something else, it would be the same thing. The problem is reinvention of stupid new terms that are incompatible between the individual coursebooks and grammarbooks.
problem vs the
For example, I think it is extremely stupid to teach the English grammar with the Czech terminology. "Předpřítomný čas", you explain it in either language as what it is, the Present perfect.
I don't know how strongly I disagree here, because I don't know how meaningful the Czech term is. As a general rule, though, I see using target language terminology as pointless, as for one thing, the terminology will almost always be above the language level of the learner and for another, you end up diverting time to the task of teaching vocabulary that has no use in day-to-day life.
But this brings up something important: to me, the perfect aspect is a perfect example of how inappropriate Latin terminology is. "Subjunctive" is confusing enough, because it's an essentially meaningless term, but "perfect" is a common word, and is used here with a meaning that is radically different from common use -- that makes it very
difficult for learners to process. The French have done away with the term, because it doesn't suit their purposes any more.
Another prime example is the articles: "definite" and "indefinite". This confuses every native English speaker, because we all hear these as being synonyms of "certain" and "uncertain". I was discussing grammar in Spanish once, and it dawned on me that "definido" and "indefinido" translate into English as "defined" and "undefined".
The whole meaning of the articles is clear when you translate the terms correctly: the, the definite article, signals that the listener should know which one the speaker is talking about -- i.e. it has been "defined"; a, the indefinite article, signals that the listener isn't expected to know which one the speaker is talking about -- i.e. it remains "undefined". The current terminology obscures meaning, a minor alteration would illuminate.
Neither of these terms would be a problem for the student, just like the name of the element oxygen. The problem comes, when a monolingual grammar book uses the term present perfect, one Czech based book uses present perfect, another Czech based book uses předpřítomný čas,
In itself this is not a problem. If the student has learnt the concept in native language terminology, they should not have a problem recognising which structure is being discussed in a grammar book, and concluding that "present perfect" is the English for "předpřítomný čas".
and the bilingual teacher merrily mixes both the terminologies together and that gets confusing as hell, especially when several tenses are being talked about during one class, or the teacher starts introducing their own terminology, like "have done construction".
This is a new and different problem. Teachers should be consistent in their terminology.
You're right, the example is not the best one, it was meant as an illustration. It is hard to find a good example, because this stupid attitude is simply not common outside of the language teaching.
I think you'll find that people working in a lot of branches of science and technology translate a range of terms into their own language. I'm sure Czech brewers don't have "mash tuns" and don't produce "wort" and "barm". I doubt the distillation of the spirits for Slivovice involves something called a "washback".
If you teach a class of intelligent people, you will not lose the class by telling them right away what they are being taught. It's that simple, we are making our expectations based on the dumb people, and that is the problem.
It's a fairly simple principle: some people lock up when they are told something they don't understand. Some of them are just fixating on the word, preventing them from being able to pay attention to the whole bigger picture in class. In many cases they think that their lack of understanding implies that they're stupid -- it doesn't. What you've done is set up a self-fulfilling prophecy -- you assume that anyone who is capable of learning will understand this way of teaching, and anyone who doesn't understand is stupid. This leads to giving up on people who are perfectly capable of learning if only they weren't made unnecessarily confused at the start of the lesson.
And besides, saying "today we're going to learn the subjunctive" is actually not "telling them... what they are being taught" -- until they know what the subjunctive is
, all you're doing is saying a word that they don't understand. What possible benefit is there in saying something the learner doesn't understand.
Assuming everyone is stupid is the problem.
You are the one that assumes people are stupid. You are taking a very real and pretty common problem, then saying it's not a problem because people aren't stupid. The clear implication is that the great many people who do find this a problem are stupid.
In fact, you are calling me
stupid. I can't tell you the number of textbooks (mostly computer-related) that have had me in a ball of frustrated rage because they open up with terminology and leave me feeling like I don't understand anything, when actually the concepts that they're trying to present are really, really simple.
Terminology-first is a huge, HUGE problem TO ME, and I'm a guy with three undergraduate degrees and a masters. It's hard to describe me as stupid, but your definition would throw me on the rubbish heap as a useless, no hope student.
And what is wrong with today's world, when the exact things making education and knowledge seem attractive are seen as an obstacle? The goal of education should be a person not afraid of a foreign word. The teachers dumbing stuff down to avoid any foreign words are doing the opposite, making the education less and less diffferent from ignorance.
You're contradicting yourself.
I said:It's a weird paradox that we treat the use of Latin-derived terms as intellectually superior, but when we try to do what the Roman scholars themselves actually did, following their intellectual example, suddenly we're accused of dumbing down.
You said: No, that's not what is happening.
And now that's precisely
what's happening. You are raising the use of Latin terminology as an intellectual endeavour, and the use of helpful mother-tongue terminology (which is what the Romans themselves had) as dumbing down. You even used those exact words -- dumbing down.