Misleading caviling

A message read: “Students learn information differently. They acquire languages in the exact same way.”

The response was: “I respectively disagree with X on her point that “all students are the same.” I do agree that the subconscious acquisition of language via CI is available to all and leads to fluency, as I said in my original Email. That process in and of itself is the same for all. However students can differ in many ways that can affect the ease and rate of that acquisition. That is what the affective filter is all about.

This sort of caviling creates so much useless back and forth on listservs. The responder said what X said, then goes on to bring up the obvious fact that all sorts of things can interfere with acquisition. Linguists, which X is, have a hard time with non-linguists b/c non-linguists tend to insist on relying on the colloquial and dictionary meanings of words instead of the academic use or jargon. Acquisition itself is a good example. On a listserv recently we had a person who kept redefining the terms of SLA by giving standard dictionary definitions and using them to support his argument.

In fact, in reading McWhorter’s Defining Creole, I see he cites Michel DeGraff very frequently as an antagonist. Well I remember years ago being on some sort of listserv where McWhorter and DeGraff got into a ferocious fight. So just yesterday I looked up DeGraff and found he is a computer scientist with a strong interest in linguistics. No doubt his professionalism in linguistics is up to snuff – he regularly publishes in respected journals – but I wonder if something in his mentality got set in those engineering classes that blocked his receptivity of some basic principles of linguistics. Just saying, as Jon Stewart would put it.

Also, DeGraff is a native speaker, I believe, of Kweyol, and there may be some added sensitivity there.

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