Conference: ICT for Language
Learning, 5th edition
A Synoptic Juxtaposition of
Cognate Languages – European
Integration through
Multilingualism
_______________________________________________________
dr Piotr Wahl
The gift of tongues
On the Pentacost
the Holy Spirit
descended on
the Apostoles
and they were
given the gift of
tongues.
A typical Western image of the Pentecost. Duccio di
Buoninsegna (1308), tempera on wood.
Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentecost
2
The gift of tongues
George Steiner ("After Babel"): was it
glossolalia or xenoglossy?
γλωσσολαλία (glossolalia) = γλώσσα
'tongue' + λαλέω 'to speak'; speaking the
sacred Pre-Babel language understood by
everybody
Ξενογλωσσία (xenoglossy) = ξένος 'foreign'
+ γλώσσα; speaking all possible
languages
3
Multilingualism
glossolalia + xenoglossy
(two different facets of the same phenomenon)
=
multilingualism
4
Multilingualism...
(1)is quite unevenly distributed
geographically;
(2)is very differently treated in
various parts of the world and
by various groups of people.
5
Multilingualism
In the world:
 there are not more than 200 countries
 and much more than 2,000 languages
(according to some sources there may be
even 10,000 languages).
Less than a quarter of the world's nations
give official recognition to two languages,
and only six recognize three or more.
6
Multilingualism...
...is commonly burdened with two
fallacies:
(a) geographically it is a limited
phenomenon, and
(b) multilinguals are somewhat
handicapped.
Both are false!
7
Multilingualism...
(a) Up to 70% of the world's population may be
multilingual;
(b) multilinguals are intellectually much richer.
Conclusion:
multilingualism should be supported & promoted
How?
(1) through a special language policy;
(2) by teaching foreign languages.
8
Achieving native speaker’s
competence
language acquisition
≠
language learning
The native speaker’s competence
=
the C2 level according to Common
European Framework of Reference for
Languages
9
Language acquisition
vs language learning
The (Chomskyan) LAD (language acquisition
device) + some critical periods or thresholds.
The LAD = an innate linguistic matrix in which any
language may be inscribed.
'innate' = 'genetically recorded information'.
This innate linguistic matrix is activated gradually
when some windows are opened; the time when
each of these windows stays open is called
'critical period'. When the windows get closed,
i.e. the critical periods are over, the acquisition of
another language becomes much more difficult,
if not impossible.
10
Learning foreign languages
in Europe:
3 years at kindergarten...
12 years at primary and secondary
schools...
4-5 years at university...
Altogether, up to 20 years.
Can the majority of the European
population speak one or more foreign
languages fluently?
11
Teaching foreign languages
The answer is:
No.
Logically enough, there appears a question:
Why is it so?
The explanation is obvious
(almost tautological):
Because the existing methods are not
efficient.
12
Teaching foreign languages
An ensuing conclusion seems equally
obvious:
a new, more efficient method must be
looked after.
*
*
*
There may be a method that meets this
requirement: the Synoptic Method
13
Synoptic Method
The method called 'synoptic' because
the languages taken for analysis are
juxtaposed in the same way the
Books of New Testament have been
since 1774 (and called 'synoptic
Gospels'). The juxtaposed languages
collated so that to emphasise the
differences and similarities between
them.
14
Synoptic Method
The grammar is operational and consists of 6 sets:
1) phonetic,
2) semasiological,
3) morphological,
4) lexical,
5) syntactic simple,
6) syntactic complex;
and four vertical intralingual functions:
1) morphological,
2) lexical,
3) syntactic simple,
4) syntactic complex.
15
Synoptic Method
The infralingual functions, the 'inside-a-language'
functions, combine elements of a lower level
into units of a higher level up to the finite
message.
Synoptic switching between languages possible
due to the five horizontal interlingual functions:
1) phonetic,
2) morphological,
3) lexical,
4) syntactic simple,
5) syntactic complex.
16
Synoptic Method
The interlingual functions, the 'between-languages'
functions, transform units of one language into units of
another language at the same level; for example, at the
lexical level the interlingual functions can transform
Spanish words into the Portuguese ones, and vice versa,
which may be transcribed in the following way:
FSPN→PORL and FPOR→SPNL;
FSPN→PORL = {f1(habilidad) = habilidade; f2(acusación) =
acusação; f3(noche) = noite;...;
fn(x) = y}
17
Synoptic Method
If another language added – let it be French – the
number of the functions of the first order amounts to
six:
 FSPN→PORL and FPOR→SPNL;
 FSPN→FRNL and FFRN→SPNL;
 FFRN→PORL and FPOR→FRNL;
and to n functions of the second order:
{fSPN→POR1(habilidad) = habilidade;
fPOR→FRN1(habilidade) = habilité; fSPN→FRN1(habilidad)
= habilité;...}; {fSPN→POR2(acusación) = acusação;
fPOR→FRN2(acusação) = accusation;
fSPN→FRN2(acusación) = accusation;...}
18
Synoptic Method
The interlingual lexical functions may be compacted
to several dozen ones of the 3rd order:
 {fSPN→POR1(~dad) = ~dade;
 fPOR→FRN1(~dade) = ~té;
 fSPN→FRN1(~dad) = ~té;...};
 {fSPN→POR2(~ción) = ~ção;
 fPOR→FRN2(~ção) = ~tion;
 fSPN→FRN2(~ción) = ~tion;...}...
19
Synoptic Method
 The functions of the first order – not operational.
 There may be up to one million interlingual lexical
functions of the second order (as it is in the case of the
English language);
 these may be compacted to just several dozen ones of
the third order.
 The same may be done at the other levels: phonetic,
morphological and syntactic (simple and complex).
It is a complicated and time-consuming process to record
one million bits of information, and so is the process of
their retrieval; it is much easier if the number of the bits
is reduced to several dozen. The act of speaking is
momentaneous and the human mind may be unable to
manage the system of functions of the second order.
20
Synoptic Method
The Synoptic Method already applied to a group of
languages: Spanish, Portuguese and French;
and tested on two groups of students.
The results, is spite of being preliminary and still
not quantified, indicate an enormous increase in
the effectiveness compared to the existing
mainstream methods:
using the latter it takes 480 hours to achieve the
B2 level in one language and 1440 in three
languages, whereas with the use of the Synoptic
Method the B2 level in three languages may be
arrived at after 320 hours, i.e. 4.5 times faster.
21
Synoptic Method
Existing mainstream methods compared to the
Synoptic One:
Existing mainstream methods
Level
One language
Synoptic Method
Three languages
hours
cumulative
hours cumulative hours
A1
120
120
360
360
A2
120
240
360
720
B1
120
360
360
1040
B2
120
480
360
1440
cumulative
320
22
Synoptic Method
The theory:
 Piotr Wahl; Metoda synoptyczna. Nowa wizja języka
etnicznego w aspekcie teoretycznym i aplikacyjnym
(Synoptic Method. A New Vision of Natural
Languages...); 2011; Szczecin University; Szczecin;
ISBN 978-83-7518-313-9; 283 pages.
An example how it may be applied to a group of languages:
 Piotr Wahl; Synoptic Description: Spanish, Portuguese,
French; 2010; Szczecin University; Szczecin; vol. 1,446
pages (ISBN 978-83-62355-38-9); vol. 2,450 pages
(978-83-62355-39-6).
23
The European Union’s
linguistic policy
The EU's 23 official languages may be divided into:
 the Romance ('Neo-Latin') languages: French, Italian,
Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish;
 the Germanic languages: Danish, Dutch, English,
German, Swedish;
 the Slavonic languages: Bulgarian, Czech, Polish,
Slovak, Slovenian;
 the Finno-Ugric languages: Estonian, Finnish,
Hungarian;
 the Baltic languages: Latvian, Lithuanian;
 the miscellaneous group: Greek, Irish, Maltese.
24
The European Union’s
linguistic policy
 The Romance languages native speakers could
be taught the other 4 Romance languages;
 the Germanic languages native speakers – the
other 4 Germanic languages;
 and the Slavonic languages native speakers –
the other 4 Slavonic languages.
In the Schengen space the state borders no longer
exist, however they do exist mentally, they are
real 'scars of history'; the Synoptic Method could
heal these scars.
25
Towards an all-European identity
A change in university curricula; for example,
instead of:
 the history of Spain,
 the history of Portugal,
 the history of France,
 the history of Italy
(which are sometimes contradictory),
there would be one comprehensive history of
the Neo-Latin area.
26
Glossolalia
The semasiological set contains the
meanings alone, deprived of any forms.
If such meanings could be transmitted from
one human mind to another, the gift of
glossolalia
(the gift of speaking the pre-Babel language)
would become conceivable.
27
Xenoglossy
The Chinese character for 'woman' is:
女.
This character will induce in anybody who can
read the Chinese characters, irrespective of
what language they are native speakers of,
an image of a woman; thereby, xenolossy
(the gift of speaking all the languages)
becomes conceivable.
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Glossolalia & Xenoglossy
The final conclusion:
thanks to the Synoptic Method the Biblical
gifts of
glossolalia and xenoglossy
become imaginable,
and there is just one step
from what is imaginable
to what is feasible.
29
Piotr Wahl may be contacted
at:
Akademickie Centrum Kształcenia
Językowego (Szczecin University’s
Linguistic Centre), Ul. Wawrzyniaka 15,
70-392 Szczecin, Poland.
website: www.ackj.pl
e-mail: [email protected]
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Synoptic Method