Educational CyberPlayGround ®


Secret Tongues
is an example of a cryptolect, a characteristic or secret language used only by members of a group, often used to conceal the meaning from those outside the group.

During the Religious Moment Speaking in Tongues does not involve the frontal lobes. "speak in tongues." Called glossolalia - Now scientists say they have captured glossolalia on brain scans, which link decreased frontal lobe activity to a loss of self control.

Evolution of Speech

The Tongue of Tonal Languages is Perfect Pitch - LANGUAGE IS MUSIC TO THE BRAIN

Tongue-Tied Already wrestling with how to teach in English and Cantonese, Hong Kong adds Mandarin. By PETER STEIN
FOR MOST ASIAN countries, aiming for widespread literacy in one language is challenging enough. But Antony Leung has loftier aims for Hong Kong.
Main " There's no choice but to require our students to be biliterate and trilingual," says Mr. Leung, the education policy guru in Hong Kong's new government.
He figures that Hong Kong students need to read, write and speak both English and Chinese. And besides understanding their native Cantonese dialect, they have to master Mandarin, also called Putonghua, the national dialect of China.
So far, though, Hong Kong has had trouble enough being bilingual. Many of the city's schools have settled into an unhappy medium of "Chinglish" -- Cantonese peppered with English. And far from biliterate, students often end up unable to write well in either English or Chinese. About 43% of Hong Kong's secondary-school students failed English in this year's certification exams. The same proportion failed the Chinese-language test.
"Our language skills in both English and Chinese are not very good," admits Tung Chee Hwa, Hong Kong's new chief executive. "Language skills of both English and Chinese are a major concern for this administration, for the business community, in fact for everyone."
Chiefly to blame is the mixed-language school system Hong Kong inherited from British colonial rule. More than half of Hong Kong's 400 secondary schools claim to teach their students entirely in English, while only 19% teach in Chinese. (The rest offer a mixture of both.) But about 70% of the English-language schools fail to live up to their billing, with teachers also instructing in Cantonese, according to an academic study published in May.
Since 1986, Hong Kong's government has encouraged schools to adopt "mother tongue" teaching in Cantonese. So far, though, many schools have resisted abandoning English. That resistance reflects the desires of parents who associate English with prestige, and better opportunities in the job market. The result: English textbooks taught in Cantonese, with student comprehension the first casualty.
The second casualty is business. Many companies end up shelling out their own money to train employees in the language skills they failed to acquire in school. Poor English "does indeed raise the cost" of doing business in Hong Kong, says Frank Martin, president of Hong Kong's American Chamber of Commerce. "It does necessitate in many cases hiring expatriates."
Meanwhile, Putonghua fares little better than English: It isn't a core subject at most schools, and the dialect is rarely heard outside the offices of Hong Kong's Beijing-backed companies. Yet, if English is the language of international commerce, Putonghua is the language of Hong Kong's future, says Kenneth Lai, chairman and chief executive of Theme International Holdings Ltd., a Hong Kong-based clothing retailer. China is already Hong Kong's most important business market; now that the territory has reverted to Chinese sovereignty, that market is more compelling than ever. Says Mr. Lai: "Mandarin is a must."
Hong Kong's government is taking steps to tackle its education problems. Most important, next year begins a phased process of making Chinese the mandatory language of instruction for all schools, except those where at least 85% of students fulfill certain standards of English fluency. The government is threatening fines and jail time for principals of schools that fail to comply.
"If we ask them to teach in Cantonese, at least the students can know what's going on," says Mr. Leung, the policy adviser. "If they don't know what's going on, you can bet there's a sense of failure." And that, he says, leads to higher drop-out rates, or even suicide -- a chronic problem among stress-prone students in Hong Kong secondary schools.
Meanwhile, "I think the employment of native English and native Putonghua speakers will be useful, if not as teachers, as language assistants," Mr. Leung says. Starting next year, Putonghua joins the list of core subjects in Hong Kong's primary and secondary schools; graduating students will have to pass a Putonghua exam.
Hong Kong's challenge is daunting -- but not unprecedented, says Chee Lung Tham, a Hong Kong-based executive at W.L. Gore & Associates, the U.S. maker of Gore-Tex fabric. Look at Singapore, he says: Three decades ago, the newborn island republic chose to make English its national language, despite a paucity of native speakers. Today, says Mr. Tham, Singapore's English standards far surpass those in Hong Kong.
In the 1980s, Singapore's government focused on getting its majority Chinese population -- splintered into communities that spoke Fujian, Hakka and Cantonese dialects -- to speak Putonghua. That worked too: "Today, Singaporeans are pretty good in Mandarin," says Mr. Tham, a former Singapore resident.
Can Hong Kong follow suit? It had better, believes Mr. Leung. "It's both the demand of a new age," he says, "and our practical requirement."

"Tip Of The Tongue" Experiences Explained
Source: American Psychological Association November 13, 2000
That frustrating experience when the word you are looking for is right on the tip of your tongue but you just can't seem to get it out has been studied by scientists for decades.
Explanations for the experience, labeled the "tip-of-the-tongue" or TOT state by researchers who study it, has, up until now, revolved around a blocking theory that suggested that words of similar meaning or sound "blocked" the path of the word you were looking for. There is new evidence that TOT experiences have to do with weak connections among word sounds represented in memory.
Language retrieval depends on memory of both a word's meaning and its sound. Burke, working earlier with colleague Don MacKay, Ph.D., developed the
Transmission Deficit Model that states that language production depends on the strength of connections within a network that includes conceptual and phonological levels.
"Connections weaken when words are not used regularly and/or because of aging," said Dr. Burke. "Processing the phonology of a TOT target strengthens this weak connection and improves memory recall with both young and old adults. But older adults still experienced more TOTs before and after phonological priming."
And how would people keep their memory recall process from getting rusty? Use it, the authors suggest. "People should keep using language, keep reading, keep doing crosswords. The more you use your language and encounter new words, the better your chances are
going to be of maintaining those words, both in comprehension and in production, as you get older," states Dr. James.