Thursday, March 1, 2012

Over-personalizing pronunciation instruction: grapheme personification

Clipart: Clker
As you may have noticed, one of my hobbies is following synaesthesia rabbit trails in research. Linked is the abstract of a new article in a special issue of the Journal of Neuropsychology by Amin, Olu-Lafe, Claessen, Sobczak-Edmans, Ward, Williams, and Sagiv on a relatively rare condition, what they term a form of "social synaesthesia": giving letters of the alphabet personalities and other human attributes. Would that my institution were fortunate enough to have a subscription to that journal. (I may even consider forgoing a week of venti carmel frapps and buy that.) Apparently they haven't visited many preschool phonics classes in North America where letters are routinely given names, faces, bodies and identities . . .  The last line of the abstract, however, is most interesting: "This benign form of hyper-mentalizing may provide a unique point of view on one of the most central problems in human cognition – understanding others’ state of mind." Now I could go a dozen different directions with that, but I think I'll stick with this: hyper-mentalizing. What a concept! That finally may explain why some applied linguists have such difficulty with pronunciation instruction, especially HICP: they just get too up close and personal with their phonemes and begin hyper-mentalizing. Should that fit you to the letter . . . we have the antidote.
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2 comments:

Angelina Van Dyke said...

This is most interesting! I'm glad you consider the problem of some applied linguists a benign form of hyper-mentalizing, because this is actually a psychological disorder connected to BPD!

Bill Acton said...

It is close . . . except that it is not really B9 and many of them way beyond "borderline!" BPD = Borderline Pronunciation Demagogues!

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