Posted by: lyonenglishnetwork | January 14, 2011

Google translate and acquisition

It seems that google translate works by teaching itself language correlation, that is by google engineers throwing at the system huge amounts of data for it to process, and find correlations in language.

It seems to me that this is precisely the acquisition process: we need, as language learners, to be able to process large amounts of information in our brains to be able to correlate – usually – with our first language.

That means that learning grammar from books is not enough but that there is so much information in a language that some kind of outside activity (watching tv, listening, reading, going to the country, conversational language lessons) is necessary in order to effectively acquire the language.

Your thoughts ?


Lyon Lingua

Learn English Naturally



  1. I believe, Paul, that your thoughts are not so far removed from ‘Chomsky’s transformational grammar’. Tough meat for the linguistics student! I can’t say that I’ve studied it or even begun to understand it. But I can compare my own experience in learning French (similar structure: s-v-o phrases and lexis) and Japanese (very different). For me, the similarity of French to English is an aide. However, it also leads me to directly translating, which is still a problem. e.g. Why can’t we ‘jeter ouvert les fenêtres’ (‘throw open the windows’) in French? With learning Japanese, to the low level I reached, these issues never arose – every phrase and structure being so different. The brain is not then muddled by language transformation but starting completely anew.

  2. Yes, it is, but this week I’ve been learning about: (Learning)

    I’ll maybe come back to this on the blog at some point soon because it deserves some explanation. This is the case when we ‘learn’ languages as opposed to acquiring them. Both are valid, I think, with the learning perhaps being done more towards the beginning of the spectrum (beginner / elementary / pre-int) and acquisition happening more as you progress.

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