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Common Linguistic ProblemWhen a person is trying to learn a foreign language they may encounter a large number of problems. Some of the problems are: ? The human mouth is capable of making around 500 distinct sounds of vowels and consonants. American english uses roughly 44 of those sounds. A common mistake that many people make in learning a new language is they assume that a sound that is similar to their own is the same as their own. o For example, the chinese zh, ch, sh sounds similar to the english j, ch, and sh. Yet, they are worlds apart and if you try using the english consonants with the chinese words, you will not be understood. The placement of our tongue for these english sounds is right behind the front upper teeth, whereas the tongue placement for these chinese sounds is much further back on the palate. o Aspirated and un-aspirated sounds are common source of language learning problems. For example, in American our t and p are aspirated (large puffs of air), yet, the spanish spoken in Latin America don?t aspirate these sounds. o Incorrect use of vowels produces significant problems. Many language learners don?t realize there are differences in the vowels, or they simply can?t hear the differences. As a result they end up using their native vowels and this gives them a very rich accent or brogue. o People have a tendency of automatically associating certain sounds from their native language to certain letters of the new language. For example, the Latin American spanish sound for J is either an h sound (as in Hesus for the word ?Jesus?) or a y sound (as in Yanet for the word ?Janet?). Yet, they do have a J sound in their language. Their Y and LL often sounds like the english J. If the language learner had taken the time to truly listen to the sound before he memorized it, he probably would have learned it correctly. ? It becomes harder to learn a new language as we get older. This is because as we get older our minds are less capable of hearing the subtle differences in speech. In addition, our mouths are less capable of correctly producing these subtle differences. ? Tones are another source of problems for the language learner. Tonal languages use tones, in addition to distinct sounds, to form words. This can cause problems for a person going from a tonal language to a non-tonal language and vice versa. Typically, most tonal languages are found in the Asiatic region. Although an argument can be made for a fifth tone, the chinese language has four basic tones that they use. Listed below is an example of how varying the tone of the sound ?ma? can form four separate words. If you say it correctly you would be saying ?Did mother scold the horse?? o (steady high pitch) ma = "mother," o (rising pitch) ma = "sesame or hemp," o (falling then rising pitch) ma = "horse," o (falling pitch) ma = "curse or scold." ? Intonation can be a rather difficult part of speech to learn. As we saw in the above paragraphs, changing the tone can change the word. In non-tonal languages such as english, we use intonation (fluctuation of tones throughout the sentence) to change emphasis or meaning of sentences. It can often reflect the emotion of the speaker. For example, if you were to say, ?What did you say?? with the tone going up and then down, you are basically asking the person to repeat themselves. However, if you were to say it with the tone rising sharply at the end, you are basically expressing shock, incredulity, and are probably demanding a reply. ? Stress on a syllable produces variation in meanings. In the Latin American spanish, stressing one syllable over another produces a completely different word. For example, Sólo means ?only? and solo means ?alone.? In english we don?t change individual words with stress, but we do change the meaning of the sentence with it. Consider the following two paragraphs. o ?He didn?t mean to kick that dog.? (meaning someone else meant to do it) o ?He didn?t mean to kick that dog.? (meaning he meant to kick another dog)