A Messy mess

Steve and Gerdine Stanley liken learning language to trying to drink from a fire hose: there is always so much and it can feel completely overwhelming.

Steve has appreciated having time on home assignment to sit and pick over language data in a way they never have time for in the bush.  He does not feel it is a productive way of learning language. (“The fire hose of immersion is a much better way to learn to speak,” Steve says) but it certainly satisfies his sense of completion to be able to spend weeks poring over the data he collected without a stack more arriving in his inbox!

Learning an unwritten language is messy work. Steve remembers the good old days of linguistic training where he had data sheets containing the “100% incontrovertible correct” data to work with. Now he is very aware of the fact that he, in all his fallibility, gathered the data himself!

Steve says, “There are the times that my predictions about the language patterns are just totally wrong. Will further study reveal a crystal clear unambiguous answer? Or will it be a messy mess that we just muddle through? My vote is it will be the messy mess of the real world of learning an undocumented language.”

Family news: Steve and Gerdine’s twins are now sleeping from 11:30 pm till 6.30 am. Good job, babies!