Cognate Linguistics


The Immediate and Effortless Recognition of Cognates - IERC

(Excerpts taken from Cognate Linguistics)

The cognitive and psycholinguistic mechanisms employed by our minds to acquire L1 are not exactly the same as those employed to acquire L2 given that learners in their homeland acquiring L2, for example, have already experienced a language before and have a more advance cognitive development than that of children (Waring and Takaki, 2003). Processes such as linguistic analogy, analysis, synthesis and the like play vital roles in future acquisition processes once we have stepped into school and have learnt about the world using L1. On the other hand, cognate readers seem to unconsciously 'run over' any resemblance of their mother tongue.

"Un grupo de animales -un León, una Cebra, una Jirafa, y una Hipopótamo- escapan de un zoológico en New York y arriban a una isla donde tendrán muchas aventuras con una tribu de lémures y con sus amigos los inteligentes pingüinos."

Our approach to second language teaching and learning is strongly influenced by the very fundamentals of a relatively new science: Psycholinguistics. One of the objectives of this science is the study of the cognitive processes involved in the acquisition, perception and production of language. Our cognate approach accomplishes one of the most basic principles of psycholinguistics; the immediate and effortless audiovisual recognition of linguistic input. Although several other concepts have been used to describe the aforementioned process (Costa et al, 2000; Dijkstra et al, 1998; Brysbaer et al, 1999; Odlin, 1989), it has been necessary to develop our own explanation of the phenomenon; that is, the Immediate and Effortless Recognition of Cognates - IERC.

The mental task of recognition or association is of such an importance that some scientists, such as Dr. Karl Pribram from Stanford University, support the claim that memory may not really exist as a physical storage of information and that what people identify as memory would be one of the many functions or processes the mind performs leading to remember, associate, or learn. This is interesting because the IERC has more to do with a natural mental associative process than with the mental acquisition or storage of words itself.

Regarding translation, the IERC has nothing to do with engaging in such process. The process of expressing the sense of a foreign word or group of words by using corresponding equivalents from our mother tongue does not take place while using cognates; therefore, our proposed approach cannot be related to translation in any way. Once again, in cognate recognition the mind processes input as if it were in our mother tongue, to the point of ignoring it when it is subconsciously understood.

"Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."

Author Unknown, 2003