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  • A big part of why I work with endangered languages,

    我之所以致力保存即將失傳的語言,

  • is because I am myself a descendant of a speech community

    很大一部份是因為我本身就是這類語言族群的後代,

  • that even today is struggling to survive.

    這個語言至今都還在努力求生存

  • Look at the name over there,

    看看那裏的名字,

  • you can probably guess which one it is.

    你大概可以猜出是哪一個

  • But, for many of my friends,

    但是,對我的許多朋友而言,

  • language loss is much more immediate,

    語言失傳來得更立即,

  • much more intense.

    也更嚴重

  • For them, it's loss of a chunk of their sovereignty.

    對他們來說,這代表喪失了一大塊國家主權

  • A connection to their past.

    喪失了與過去的連結

  • A connection to their cultural wealth.

    喪失了與文化遺產的連結

  • A grounding in their history.

    喪失了歷史的根本

  • In my work, I've seen time and time again,

    在我的工作中,我看過一次又一次

  • just how wrenching it can be

    明白這有多沉痛

  • for parent and child,

    父母與子女、

  • a grandparent and a grandchild,

    祖父母與孫兒

  • to become disconnected in a way that goes

    彼此失去連結

  • far beyond any kind of natural generation gap.

    這種影響遠比任何自然產生的代溝都更深遠

  • But even if you care,

    但即使你在意,

  • even if you sympathize, you may think,

    即使你覺得同情,你也可能會想

  • "Well, endangered languages just aren't worth saving."

    「嗯,即將失傳的語言實在不值得拯救。」

  • Because you probably think they'll cost a fair bit to save.

    因為你可能會覺得要保存它所費不貲

  • Not just money, but also time, energy and attention.

    不只是錢,也包含時間、精力及注意力

  • And these are things that're all in short supply these days.

    這些都是當前很缺乏的

  • Especially so for a lot of these communities,

    尤其對大多數這類族群而言,

  • which are often faced with even more immediate,

    他們往往面臨更迫切

  • even more material challenges. But what if it cost next to nothing?

    甚至更物質的挑戰。但假如幾乎不必花費什麼就能達到呢?

  • Next to nothing to learn a new language?

    幾乎什麼都不必花費就能學一個新語言?

  • What if we could radically reduce

    假如我們能根本地去除

  • linguistic entry costs?

    語言的入門成本?

  • Well then the arguments against sustaining linguistic diversity,

    那麼,那些反對維護語言多樣性的論述

  • would not sound so reasonable.

    就不再聽起來合理了

  • Because all of us

    因為我們每個人

  • could easily jump from language to language,

    都可以輕易地從一個語言跳到另一個語言,

  • just to show respect to our host or our guest.

    只為了對主人或客人表示敬意

  • Or to enjoy the expressive capacities

    或是為了享有

  • that this particular language allows us.

    這個特定語言帶給我們的表達空間

  • Or simply because between you and me,

    或只是因為在你我之間,

  • this language is the one I feel the most like home.

    這個語言是最像家一樣有親切感的

  • So the obvious question is,

    所以,問題顯然在於,

  • how long does it take to learn a new language?

    學一個新語言要花多久時間?

  • Not perfectly,

    不用完美

  • not you know, without a single error,

    不需要毫無錯誤

  • not even fluently, but just enough to get your foot in the door.

    甚至不用很流利,只需要能讓你踏入門檻就夠了

  • Enough to get started,

    足以開始對話,

  • to get going, enough to join that speech community and be part of it.

    足以持續,能夠加入那個語言族群並成為其中一份子

  • Well, in my experience,

    嗯,在我的經驗裡,

  • it's about a week or so.

    這只需要一個星期左右

  • And you know,

    你知道,

  • I was just as shocked as you to discover this.

    我發現這件事時跟你一樣驚訝

  • In the summer of 2003, after just 10 days in Bulgaria

    2003年夏天,我在保加利亞待了十天

  • with my new in-laws,

    跟我新婚的親家相處後,

  • I was able to talk well enough

    我的對話能力已經足以

  • to translate for my sister when she came.

    在我妹妹來時幫她翻譯了

  • And then the same thing happened again the next summer.

    隔年夏天同樣的事情再度發生

  • I went to the Czech Republic for my cousin's wedding,

    我到捷克參加表親的婚禮

  • showed up about a week early, and by the time the wedding rolled around,

    我大約提早一週抵達,而到婚禮進行時,

  • I was just chatting away with all my new Czech relatives.

    我已經在跟所有捷克的新親戚聊天了

  • I wasn't fluent and I wasn't flawless but I was effective.

    我講得不流利,也非毫無瑕疵,但我能有效溝通

  • Now real fluency, in my experience,

    依我的經驗,要達到真正流利

  • does take a long time,

    確實需要很長一段時間

  • does take hanging out with the speech community.

    需要與該語言族群長期交流相處

  • But still, just one week and change

    但確實只要一週的改變

  • to get a foot in the door.

    就能踏入門檻

  • To be able to party with the Czechs.

    能跟捷克人開派對

  • To be able to hang out in Bulgarian cafes

    能在保加利亞咖啡店與人閒聊

  • and order French fries with aplomb.

    能泰然自若地點薯條來吃

  • That seemed like an idea worth sharing.

    這似乎是個值得分享的點子

  • Now of course, I'm a trained field linguist,

    當然,我是受過訓練的語言學家,

  • so you probably think, "You're self selected.

    所以你可能會想,「你是在自我取樣。」

  • You've got experience. You've got talent." Right?

    「你有經驗。你有天賦。」對吧?

  • But when I do it,

    但當我這麼做時,

  • it doesn't feel at all like talent,

    我一點也不覺得像天賦,

  • and not much like experience either.

    也不怎麼像是經驗

  • All it feels like is a really clear sense of what to do.

    而像是有清楚概念,知道該怎麼做

  • How to handle vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar,

    如何處理詞彙、發音、文法,

  • and more than anything else,

    以及最重要的,

  • how to make it through any conversation.

    如何將之運用在任何對話中

  • And this is what I think we're missing

    我認為我們缺乏的就是這個,

  • when we struggle with languages.

    所以我們艱辛地學習語言

  • When we fall to learn languages.

    在學語言時感到挫敗

  • We all get taught languages,

    我們都有受語言教育

  • but we don't get taught how to learn languages.

    但我們並沒有被教導如何學語言

  • And that's what I've been working on for quite some time right now.

    而這就是我這陣子致力在推動的事

  • On how to translate the experience,

    如何演繹這種經驗,

  • the skill set of a trained field linguist into a form that anybody,

    將受過訓練的語言學家具備的能力

  • any of you can pick up quickly

    演繹成你們任何人都能快速獲得的形式,

  • and use to become active learners, confident learners,

    並能加以運用,成為主動、有自信的學習者,

  • who can step right out into the street, the scary street of real-life language use

    能夠立刻走入街頭,走入實際運用語言的可怕街頭

  • with very little fear.

    而幾乎不帶恐懼

  • And if we can do this,

    如果我們能做到,

  • then it doesn't just change

    這不僅改變了

  • how you and me learn languages,

    你我學習語言的方式,

  • but it also has the potential to radically reshape

    更有可能根本地重塑

  • how linguistic majorities and linguistic minorities

    語言多數族群及語言少數族群

  • can live and work together in the same world.

    在同一個世界中共同生活與工作的模式

  • Because now, separate linguistic traditions

    因為現在,不同的語言傳統

  • are no longer communicative obstacles,

    不再是溝通時的障礙,

  • but actually resources.

    而是資源

  • Social, cultural, intellectual,

    社會、文化、知能,

  • even emotional resources that we can all share and enjoy together.

    甚至情感方面的資源,我們都得以共享

  • So, how do we do it? How do we get that foot in the door?

    所以,我們該怎麼做?我們該怎麼跨過這個門檻?

  • At least that foot in the door.

    至少跨過一隻腳

  • First and foremost,

    首先最重要的,

  • what we need to understand is our own psychology.

    我們需要了解自己的心理

  • We need to understand that it's the social and the emotional aspects

    我們必須了解,在語言學習中,社會和情緒這兩個面向

  • of language learning that decide everything.

    決定了一切

  • Because when we first start to learn a language,

    因為我們剛開始學語言時,

  • it's humiliating. It's embarrassing. It's frustrating.

    會感到很丟臉、很不好意思、很挫折

  • So this gets you guys all rushing at the door to go learn a language.

    所以這使你們全部都急著要衝破語言的門

  • But this is because as adults, as teenagers,

    但這是因為身為成人、身為青少年,

  • we measure ourselves on how well we can present ourselves with our words.

    我們以自己能運用語言表達自我的能力來看待自己

  • And in a new language we lose that control,

    而在我們使用新語言時,卻失去這種掌控能力,

  • and we run screaming away from that.

    所以我們想大叫著逃離現場

  • We dodge conversations.

    我們逃避對話

  • We hide on a linguistic sideline.

    我們躲到語言界線之後

  • We do anything to avoid a simple face-to-face conversation,

    我們想盡辦法避免基本的面對面交談

  • which is the one thing, the only thing that's going to make us better.

    而這卻是一個唯一能讓我們進步的機會

  • And as English speakers in today's world, the world is very accommodating of that.

    在現代世界中,身為英語使用者,這世界對我們很通融

  • It makes it very easy for us

    這使得我們很容易

  • to indulge in our instinct to just bailout

    就放縱自己逃避的本能

  • when we get linguistic stage fright.

    在我們面對語言怯場的時候

  • So what do we do?

    所以我們該怎麼辦呢?

  • Well, the short answer is,

    嗯,答案很簡單,

  • we learn to check our shame at the door.

    我們要學著在門口檢視這種丟臉的感覺

  • We learn to embrace this loss of control,

    我們要學著擁抱失去掌控的狀況

  • enjoy the fact that we've been

    享受我們在新的語言情境中

  • --more or less involuntarily--

    --多少出於非自願的--

  • given a second childhood in a new language.

    必須重新度過一次童年

  • Right?

    對吧?

  • So, if we can do this,

    所以,如果我們能夠如此,

  • then we have learned to shift our job,

    我們就能學習轉換我們的職責,

  • reframe our job.

    重新架構我們的職責

  • To not from trying to seek out perfection,

    不再試著追求完美

  • not making any mistakes,

    或是不出任何差錯,

  • but instead, just learning to cope well.

    而是學著好好應對

  • And the best place to learn linguistic coping skills

    而學習語言應對技巧最好的方式

  • is through simply learning how to improvise.

    不過就是學習如何即興發揮

  • Learning how to use description, metaphor, analogy.

    學習如何使用描述、隱喻、類比

  • To work around the words that we don't know.

    設法繞過我們所不會的單字

  • So for example, if I don't know how to say tiger in your language,

    舉例來說,如果我不知道要怎麼用你的語言說老虎這個單字,

  • I will say, "It's a thing, it's like a cat but big and orange,

    我就會說,「這個東西就是像貓,但是比較大,是橘色的,

  • and the one behind you looks a little bit hungry."

    牠在你後面看起來有點餓。」

  • (Laughter)

    (笑聲)

  • It's these clunky but effective descriptions

    這種笨拙但有效的描述

  • that actually get us through any conversation.

    事實上能讓我們順利完成任何對話

  • And when we learn to congratulate ourselves on them,

    而當我們學會恭喜自己做到這件事,

  • when we realize that,

    當我們發現,

  • "Wow, this person actually understood what I said,"

    「哇,這個人真的聽得懂我在講什麼耶」

  • then we feel good about ourselves.

    我們就會覺得自己的表現還不錯

  • We find they understood what I said

    我們發現他們了解我在說什麼

  • and now, even better,

    而且更棒的是,

  • they're telling me how to say it right.

    他們還會告訴我怎麼說出正確的字

  • That's a language lesson that we will never ever forget.

    這是我們永遠不會忘記的語言課

  • Never.

    永遠不會

  • So, there's actually a second lesson inside this,

    所以,這之中其實隱含了第二層學習,

  • which is that, language is not all on you.

    那就是,語言不是你一個人的責任

  • When you and I speak together, we make meaning together.

    當你我對話時,我們是在一同創造意義

  • So learning to cope well

    所以學著在另一個語言中應對自如

  • in an another language, is as much, if not more,

    很高程度上也意味著

  • about learning to lean on the other person's

    學著依靠另一個人

  • full and complete knowledge of the language

    對該語言的完整知識

  • and even more on their willingness to help you

    甚至是他們幫助你的意願

  • make this conversation happen.

    使對話順利進行

  • So again, if we learn to reframe our task,

    所以我再次強調,如果我們學著重新定義自己的任務,

  • reframe our job,

    重新定義我們的職責,

  • as being effective, not perfect,

    為有效溝通,而非達到完美,

  • then every conversation stops being this potential minefield

    那麼進行一場對話就不再像是

  • of embarrassing mistakes and errors.

    踏入充滿丟臉錯誤的雷區

  • Instead, it's an exciting place for us to come back to every time.

    相反的,那會是個令人興奮的地方,讓我們每次都想再回來

  • Because you get to be your own MacGyver.

    因為你能成為自己的馬蓋先

  • You get to rummage around in your linguistic pockets

    你能在你自己的語言口袋裡翻找

  • and pull out a toothbrush, a button and a paperclip,

    然後搜出一把牙刷、一個鈕扣和一個迴紋針,

  • and couple that all together

    然後把它們聚集在一起

  • and somehow pull off the communicative job.

    以某種方式完成溝通任務

  • Right?

    對吧?

  • When you feel that thrill of being a linguistic hero

    當你感受到成為語言英雄的樂趣後

  • time and time again,

    一次又一次,

  • you come back to conversations, you seek them out, you want to be there.

    你會回過頭來找尋對話機會,你會想待在對話裡

  • And when you approach the task like that, well pretty soon,

    當你以這種方式達成任務後,很快地,

  • you find yourself fairly close to fluent.

    你會發現自己已經接近流利了

  • So that's how we cope with linguistic stage fright.

    我們就是這樣克服語言怯場

  • With linguistic performance anxiety.

    以及語言焦慮的

  • Which is 90% of what holds us back.

    此兩者正是90%造成我們裹足不前的原因

  • The only thing left is of course the language.

    剩下的當然就是語言本身

  • All the pronunciation. All the grammar.

    所有的發音、文法

  • All the vocabulary.

    以及單字

  • It's really intimidating, but mostly because

    這些真的很嚇人,但通常是因為

  • we're all trying to juggle it all at once.

    我們總是試著要一次把它們全部搞定

  • We've got no way to organize it. No way to prioritize it.

    我們沒有組織它的方法、沒有排列優先順序的方法

  • There is a way.

    這是有方法的

  • What we need is a simple, practical understanding

    我們需要的是簡單、實際的了解

  • of the design features of language.

    語言的結構特性

  • So let me give you just a brief taste of that.

    我稍微讓你們感受一下這件事

  • Take pronunciation.

    以發音為例

  • Anybody can learn to pronounce any sound in any language of the world.

    每個人都能學會發出世上任何語言中的任何聲音

  • Anyone of you. All of you.

    你們任何人,你們全部

  • If you don't believe me, it's probably because

    如果你不相信我,可能是因為

  • you've heard the following phrase, "Listen and repeat after me."

    你聽過以下這句話,「注意聽,跟著我唸」

  • That doesn't work. It doesn't work.

    那沒有用,真的沒有用

  • What does work, is learning the clear and simple set of instructions

    有效的方法,應該是透過明確且簡單的指引

  • for how to move your mouth to make that weird sound.

    學習如何用嘴巴做出動作來發出那個奇怪的聲音

  • After that, all you need is a little bit of exercise

    學完之後,你所需要的就是一點練習

  • to work your mouth for that oral choreography.

    用你的嘴巴做出口部舞蹈

  • And very soon you find that your muscles limber up.

    很快地你就會發現你的肌肉更有彈性了

  • And what have seemed unfamiliar,

    然後原本看似不熟悉、

  • unpronounceable, unreachable even,

    甚至無法發出、無法達成的聲音

  • becomes almost as familiar as every other sound

    變得幾乎跟你之前這輩子一直在說的聲音

  • you have been saying your whole life.

    一樣熟悉了

  • So you don't need any special talent.

    所以你不需要任何特別的才能

  • You don't need any special ear for language.

    你也不需要任何特別的語言耳

  • You just don't.

    你不需要

  • But even more importantly,

    但比這更重要的,

  • is rhythm and melody.

    是節奏和旋律

  • When you go after the distinct cadence of language.

    當你追尋語言特殊的抑揚頓挫

  • When you try to internalize that,

    當你試著內化

  • that particular languages uses,

    那特定的語言用法,

  • and use that as the foundation of your own pronunciation,

    並以此做為自己發音的基礎,

  • well then, it turns out that your own words come out fluently.

    那麼你自己講出的話語就會變得流暢

  • They flow in that cadence.

    它們會隨著那抑揚頓挫的方式流動

  • The cadence is the current that carries all your words.

    抑揚頓挫就像水流一樣帶動你的話語

  • Even better, when you've internalized it

    更棒的是,當你將它內化後

  • and you're waiting for it, you're expecting it,

    你心中會等待、預期這種韻律,

  • then suddenly, something almost miraculous happens.

    然後突然之間,某種幾乎像奇蹟的事發生了,

  • Which is that, native speaker speech

    那就是母語人士所講的話

  • suddenly doesn’t seem so fast.

    聽起來好像突然不再那麼快了

  • Because it's that rhythm and that melody that actually tells you

    因為正是那節奏跟旋律在告訴你

  • where the words begin and end.

    話語從何開始和結束

  • So that's pronunciation, but what about grammar?

    所以這就是發音,那文法呢?

  • Grammar is terrifying. Right?

    文法很可怕。是吧?

  • It's only because we teach grammar

    那只是因為我們教文法時

  • as a million little disconnected arbitrary single rules,

    把它分為數百萬個不相關且武斷的獨立規則

  • when in fact grammars are tiny little ecosystems.

    但其實文法是小小的生態系統組成的

  • Every little part fits into every little part.

    每個小部分都與其他小部分扣結

  • And if we look at those ecosystems from the top,

    如果我們從最上層往下看這些生態系統,

  • we can see a very helpful simplicity,

    我們就能看到一個非常有用的簡潔概念,

  • which is that, all of those rules

    那就是,所有這些規則

  • fall down on one side