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How to Learn the Basic Word List      221
against all possible mistakes, if the rules given are conscientiously
applied Only a series of volumes each nearly as long as this one and
each devoted to each of the languages dealt with, could claim to do so
Their aim is to explain what the beginner needs to know in order to
avoid serious misunderstandings in straightforward self-expression (see
Chapter IV) or the reading of unpretentious prose, and therefore to
help the home student to start using a language with as little delay as is
possible or advisable Beyond this point, progress in a foreign, like
progress in the home, language depends on trial and error
It is moie easy to form habits than to break them, and it is more
difficult to learn by eye alone than by eye and ear together So it is a
bad thing to start memorizing foreign words from the printed page
without first leaimng how to pronounce them recognizably The spell-
ing conventions (see Chapter II) of different languages are very differ-
rent, and it is important to learn sufficient about them to avoid gross
mistakes Beyond this, further progress is impossible without personal
instruction, travel, or gramophone records (such as the Linguaphone or
Columbia series) for those who can afford them, and careful attention
to foreign broadcasts if such opportunities are not accessible
Peculiar psychological difficulties beset individuals of English-
speaking countries when they approach the study of a foreign language
Some arise from social tradition. Others are due to geographical
situation English-speaking people speak a language which has become
world-wide through conquest, colonization, and economic penetration
Partly for this reason and partly because their water frontiers cut them
off from daily contact with other speech communities they lack the
incentives which encourage a Dane or a Dutchman to acquire linguistic
proficiency Though these extrinsic impediments are undoubtedly
powerful, there is another side to the picture Those who have been
brought up to speak the Anglo-American language have one great
linguistic advantage Their word-equipment makes it equally easy for
them to take up the study of any Teutonic or any Romance language
with a background of familiar associations, because modern English
is a hybrid language Indeed, more than one artificial auxiliary language,
notably Steiner's Pasthngua put forward in 1885, takes as its basis the
English stock in trade of words for this reason It is the object of this
chapter to help the reader to become more language-conscious by
recognizing what it implies
Examples taken from the Lord's Prayer and printed on p 21 show
the close family likeness of the common root-words in the Teutonic