Re: Scottish as a Second Language

La N wrote:
Scottish as a Second Language
By Helen Fields
ScienceNOW Daily News
11 November 2009

It's a common problem for people learning a foreign language. You've
mastered one dialect--say, the Norwegian spoken in Oslo or the Spanish
spoken in Mexico--and then you go to Trondheim or Madrid and think, "What in
the heck are these people speaking?" A new study offers a tip for learning
to recognize unfamiliar dialects: Watch a foreign film with foreign

Humans constantly need to work out unfamiliar sounds. We talk to new people,
hear new accents, and listen to familiar people with stuffy noses. Previous
experiments have found that we use what we already know about a language to
decode new things we hear. For example, if someone hears a strange consonant
that's somewhere between an "s" and an "f" in the word "horf," they hear
"horse." In "girass," people usually hear "giraffe." Which of these words
they've heard then dictates whether they'll hear the sound in "nife" as
"nice" or "knife."

Psychologist Holger Mitterer of the Max Planck Institute for
Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, wanted to see whether this
"lexically guided learning" would work in real-life situations in which the
listener has to understand an accent. Mitterer, who is German, chose to
design the study around movies partly because of his own experience as an
English learner. "When I first got to the Netherlands, a couple of exchange
students went to see Trainspotting"--a Scottish film about heroin
addicts--"and all the others had trouble following the movie," says
Mitterer. But he understood enough Dutch to get a little help from the Dutch
subtitles. "By the end of the movie, I was quite comfortable in following
Ewan McGregor," the star of the film.

For the study, Dutch students who were fluent in English watched either a
25-minute episode of the Australian sitcom Kath & Kim, whose characters
speak in broad accents from the Melbourne suburbs, or a version of
Trainspotting, which was edited down to the same length by taking out the
offensive parts. "I felt a bit like a film editor from the '50s," says
Mitterer. "Two people are getting in the cab, they start kissing, then I cut
and it's breakfast." Some students saw video with English subtitles and some
with Dutch subtitles. Then the students heard sound clips of words--some
they'd heard already and some new words spoken by the same characters.

As the researchers report today in PLoS ONE, English and Dutch subtitles
helped the students understand words that they'd already heard, but only
English subtitles helped them understand new words in the same accent.
"Let's take Australian English," says Mitterer. 'Straight away' is something
like 'strite awye.' If you get that, you'll get 'kiveman,' which is supposed
to mean 'caveman.' " But only if you saw the words "straight away" in
English on the screen; the Dutch translation doesn't help.

This makes sense, says linguist Ann Bradlow of Northwestern University in
Evanston, Illinois. "When you read the Dutch words, you're bringing to the
front of your mind the [Dutch] sound, even though you're not hearing the
sounds, and that interferes with your ability to access the sound of English
words." She recommends that the millions of non-native speakers of English
in the United States put the results into action by turning on the
closed-captioning for the hearing impaired on their televisions.

The rest of us need a lobbying campaign to get distributors to include
foreign-language subtitles on the DVDs of foreign movies, says
psycholinguist Cathi Best of the University of Western Sydney in Australia.
"I like the study; it's clever," she says. "It's a good foot in the door to
how second-language speakers can become more flexible in the way that they
recognize words."

What drives me mad is when Yankclones™ say "beta" as bay-ta and not bee-ta.

Even Canadians say it!