Denmark is a rich country with a comprehensive social structure and strong education. Still, surprisingly, Danish children have difficulty learning the mother tongue. Compared to Norwegians who learn a very similar language, Danish children learn 30% less words on average by the age of 15 months, and this is almost two years more than in the past. In Hamlet, William Shakespeare uses the famous phrase “something is rotten in Denmark”, but he may have spoken that language.
We are cognitive scientist and researcher on the Danish language puzzle team at Arhas and Cornell University. Our research shows that it is difficult for children to learn their mother tongue in a unique way. This calls into question some of the basic principles of language science.
There are three main reasons why Danish is so complex. First, with about 40 different vowels – 13 to 15 vowels in English depending on the dialect – Danish is one of the largest vowels in the world. On top of that, Dance often converts consonants into vowels when he speaks. Finally, Danes wants to “eat” the edges of words, and loses an average quarter of an inch in all letters. They do this not only in ordinary speech, but also when read aloud from written text.
Other languages may have some of these factors, but it seems that Danish may be unique in combining all three. As a result, Danish ends with a few consonants and plenty of sound scenes. The dominance of vowels in the Danish language makes it difficult to understand and learn, as consonants play an important role in helping listeners understand where words begin and end. It is not clear why and how Danish changed these strange features, but as a result, as the German writer Kurt Duholski points out, “Danish is not fit to speak … everything seems to be one word”.
Before examining how Danish children learn their mother tongue, we need to find out if the uniqueness of Danish speech affects their ability to understand it. For this purpose, the team created us
Two-year-old boys sit in front of a screen,
Shows two objects such as car and monkey. We used an eye tracking device to track where children are when they hear Danish phrases.
Find the pylon when children hear the consonant phrase! – It sounds like “Fine Peel” when pronounced and “Find the car!” – Passers-by will see the car very quickly.
However, when they heard the rich vocabulary of Her er Auben! – It sounds like “Heer Open” and “Here’s the monkey!” – It took almost half a second for the children to see the monkey. In this sentence, which is full of vowels, the boundaries between the words are blurred and it is difficult for children to understand what is being said. Half a second doesn’t seem like much, but in the world of speech it’s a very long time.
But are there so many vowels in Danish that it is difficult for children to learn their own language? It turns out yes. In another study, we found that young children have difficulty learning new words when those words are interspersed with multiple vowels.
Danish children, of course, learn their own language. However, our team found that the effects of the opaque Danish sound structure do not disappear as children grow: instead, older dances seem to shape the way they perceive their language. Denmark and Norway are closely linked historically, culturally, economically and academically. Both languages have similar grammars, past tense systems and vocabulary. However, unlike Danes, Norwegians actually pronounce their consonants.
In several experiments, we asked Danes and Norwegians to listen to phrases in which a word was deliberately made to sound vague (between “tent” and “blank”) or the meaning of the whole sentence was unusual (“like a goldfish”) (buy a boy for his sister). Because the Danish speech is so vague,
Rely heavily on the dance environment –
Before we can understand what someone is saying compared to the old Norwegians, what was said in the conversation, including how people know each other and common sense.
Together, these results show that the way people describe language is not static, but will change to challenges caused by a particular language or the languages they speak.
Within the language sciences, there has been a long-running debate about whether all languages are equally complex and how this affects the way people’s brains learn and process language. Our invention of the Danish language challenges the notion that all indigenous languages are equally easy to learn and use. In fact, learning different languages from birth can lead to different and individual ways of processing these languages.
Our results also have significant practical implications for those with language difficulties – whether due to a traumatic event such as a stroke or due to genetic and other long-term factors. Today, many interventions designed to aid language recovery are based on courses in one language, usually English. Researchers also say that cats need to be included in any precautionary measures against the virus. However, if languages differ significantly in the way they are learned and processed, one intervention that may work for one language will not work for another.
Linguists have previously studied differences between languages, but some are concerned about the potential impact of these differences on the types of processing mechanisms that develop during language differentiation. Instead, more attention is being paid to finding universal language models that are consistent with all or most languages. However, our research shows that linguistic diversity varies with the way we learn and process language. If there were such hidden depths in a relatively ordinary language like Danish, who knew what we would find when we stare at seven thousand languages in other parts of the world?