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ERIC Number: ED026648
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1968-Oct
Pages: 5
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
"Only for Telling a Man He Was Wrong."
Levenston, E.A.
English Language Teaching, v23 n1 Oct 1968
Without a large measure of direct equivalence between structures in languages and the contexts in which they are used, language learning and teaching would be impossible. For, although English (as a foreign language) teachers urge their pupils to think in English, the lines along which they think are set for them in their mother tongue. Because of direct equivalences, we can get along without misunderstanding most of the time, but for any pair of languages, there will be situations where direct translation will mislead. Briefly described is some research designed to demonstrate these assumptions concerning different linguistic behavior in identical situations by speakers of English and Hebrew. One set of situations tested language behavior in requests. Results showed that Hebrew speakers use imperative structures far more frequently than English speakers. If the meaning of a grammatical structure is defined by stating the contexts in which it is used, the meaning of the imperative in Hebrew is clearly different from the meaning of the imperative in English. Another test involved an incorrect statement by Speaker A and the verbal reaction by Speaker B ("Are you sure?" vs. "You're wrong!"). When the Israeli, speaking English, says "You're wrong!" he is not being rude; he is simply mistranslating. One can only be polite or rude within the conventions of a particular society. These conventions, most of which are linguistic, must be learned along with the foreign language. (AMM)
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