我遇到很多學語言的人都會問同樣的問題:

「為什麼是這樣發音?」

「為什麼用這個字、不用那個字?」

「為什麼不能這麼講?」

Whenever I meet someone who’s learning a new language, one of the most common questions I hear is some variation of ‘Why?’.

“Why is it pronounced like that?”

“Why do we have to use this word instead of that one?”

“Why can’t I say this?”

但這些可能不是好問題,因為母語人士通常只能回答你:「沒為什麼,就是這樣用」。

But this really isn’t the right question to be asking when learning a language. The only real answer to ‘why’ something is or isn’t some way is simply “That’s just the way it is.”

學語言很重要的是明白:語言幾乎不太有邏輯,母語人士一開始是透過身邊的大人和同儕學習表達,而他們身邊的人也是用同樣的方法學會,並非本身刻意選擇如何表達某樣事情。儘管語言不斷變化但過程緩慢,通常人們用的表達方式都是經過是世代傳承的,不像數學是精密設計的邏輯。

It’s important to understand that languages are hardly ever logical, and that native speakers don’t make conscious decisions about how to express something in any particular way. Speakers of a language simply learned how to use the language from the adults and peers around them, who learned it from someone else, and so on. Even though language is always changing, the process is slow, and for the most part, the way people speak their language was something that was passed down from generation to generation, not something that is deliberately designed to be logical like math.

當你能接受這個觀念,就能自然的說這個語言與人溝通。太經常問「為什麼…」反而會妨礙你學習,因為表示「你認為」這個語言「應該」怎麼用,變成在挑戰該語言「真正的用法」,尤其是用自己原本的語言去理解外語,覺得我的語言是這麼用,所以目標語也應該是這樣,這會是一個嚴重的錯誤。

When you can accept this, you’ll be able to learn the language as it is spoken naturally as a way to communicate with people. However, if you’re constantly asking ‘why’, it will only hinder you from learning, because it means that you already have an idea about how the language should be used, and you’re challenging the reality of how the language is actually used. This happens when learners filter their target language through their native language, assuming that what is true for the latter must also hold true for the former. But this would be a grave mistake.

既然我們不應該問「為什麼」,那應該怎麼問問題呢?

So, if we shouldn’t ask ‘why’, what are the right questions to ask?

不要問:「為什麼不能用這個字」,而是問:「如果我用這個字也是正確的嗎?」

Instead of asking “Why can’t I use this word?” you can ask “Is it also correct to use this word?”

不要問:「為什麼用這個字、不用那個字?」,你可以問:「這兩個字有什麼不同?」

Instead of asking “Why can’t I use this word instead of that one?” you can ask “What’s the difference between this word and that one?”

不要問:「為什麼要這樣發音?」,而是問:「這些字母的發音一直都一樣嗎?」

Instead of asking “Why is it pronounced like that?” you can ask “Are these letters always pronounced like that?”

不要問:「為什麼我不能這樣說?」,改成問:「有沒有別的說法?」或「這樣說也是對的嗎?」

Instead of asking “Why can’t I say it this way?” you can ask “Are there any other ways to say that?” or “Is this also correct?”

母語人士很難回答「為什麼?」的問題,但會更容易回答其他可能用法的問題,當你不預設立場、提出對的問題、並能傾聽答案,你就準備好學一個語言了。

Native speakers have a hard time answering the question ‘why’, but can more easily answer the alternatives. When you ask the right questions and listen to the answer without any assumptions, you’re much better prepared to learn the language.

– Andrei

Categories: Language learning

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