Linguistics explores languages and their structures that include syntax, semantics, phonetics, as well as morphology(Akmajian 474). Usually, linguists are considered superhuman due to their ability to speak and understand several languages. There is an assumption that any person who speaks several languages must be working for an international organization such as the United Nations. The expectation that people have of those who speak several languages is a little scary, and they often find themselves in awkward situations such as those they are asked to speak or say a word in a particular language.With my knowledge of both Arabic and English, I firmly believe I can make it into the list of linguists.
I am fluent in speaking Arabic and English as I have already mentioned. Arabic is my home language that I often speak when spending time with my extended family that includes my maternal grandmother, parents, brothers, sisters, and cousins. During childhood, we used to eat together most of the time, and through this, I learned several Arabic words related to food and eating. One of the Arabic words I learned was طعام,pronounced as /taeam/ meaning “food.” My grandmother would feed us a much as possible, and at times, when full, we would defend ourselves using the word “kafia” meaning “enough.” Moreover, because meals was prepared in the kitchen, I came to learn of the Arabic word “mutbakh” that is used to refer to “kitchen” in the English language. The close contact with my family, especially during meals, enabled me acquire other Arabic words including takul, tabaq, fanajan, alttawita, and several others.
Although I speak English, I cannot attribute its acquisition to my stay at home or frequent interaction with my family members. During my childhood, most of my family members spoke only Arabic were not very fluent in English. However, my dad could say a few English words such as school, vehicle, church, and house, which enhanced my interest in learning English. In addition to learning the mentioned English words, I came to learn other vocabularies common during festive seasons such as “Merry Christmas” and “Happy new year.” I further bolstered my English vocabulary with words such as “Thank you” and “welcome.” I have often used the phrase “thank you” when appreciating a service or product offered to me by another person. I also learned a short sentence from my dad, which was an encouragement and exciting for my small mind. The sentence was “you are a good boy,” which he might have said regarding my behaviors while at home. I affirmed this when I learned English in school several years later.I can say that learned English through the above fragments, and I have never been sure if this is one of the steps toward language acquisition because I would act more like a parrot be repeating several single words and short phrases whenever I was asked to do so. However, from the definition of language acquisition as the process through which people acquire the capability to comprehend a language, perceive a language, and to use and produce words with the objective of passing a message(Zascerinska 2), I do agree that learning a language through fragments is the cornerstone to language acquisition.
I later perfected my English when I joined school. The experience was interesting as I could English vocabulary and concepts outside my grade level. One of the English words I used more often in fifth grade was “ubiquitous,” a word that I used not that I understood it but because the teacher got it from the dictionary during one of our English lessons. I acquired other English concepts such as “square root” during our math lessons. The biggest problem was that none of my peers used words such as “ubiquitous” and “square root” in day-to-day communication, which makes me doubt whether they form part of the words that aided my acquisition of the English language.My school was located in an area where the English dialect that was spoken was “Pacific Coast English,” and this is why my peers and I speak an English dialect that can be referred to as “Pacific Coast English.” In school, we spoke English in different accents, what can be attributed to the different racial backgrounds (Akmajian 477). In my interaction with peers from other parts of the world such as Europe, I have come to realize that there is a significant difference between our spoken and written English. For instance, when learning English, were rarely capitalized the first letters of proper nouns such as Dubai, New York, Facebook, and others. This has had an impact on my written English because I rarely begin sentences with capital letters or capitalize first letters of names of towns, cities, and people. When learning English in school, I was introduced to the use of short forms of words, which has found its way into my written English. For instance, I use shortened word forms such as “btw” for “by the way” more often. However, I am still enriching my knowledge of English. I also hope to learn other languages such as French and German to have bragging rights when interacting with my peers.
Akmajian, Adrian. Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2001. Print.
Zascerinska, Jelena. “Language Acquisition and Language Learning: Developing the System of External and Internal Perspectives.” Online Submission (2010).