What's the word for...?

Help needed with a term.

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What's the word for...?

#1  Postby don't get me started » Jan 28, 2012 1:51 pm

Does anyone know a word for this?

I'm preparing a series of papers for presentations and publications at some conferences in the next six months and
I want to know if there is a term from logic or philosophy that I can apply to one of the central themes of my work.

I am proposing that conversation, meaning phatic, social, interactive talk lies at the heart of the human language system,
and that, 'conversation' is actually a specialist area of second language (L2) learning, rather than a naturally emergent skill that students will be able to develop once sufficient lexis and grammar knowledge are in place.

In the case of second language learning we can assert the following:

If a person X has never studied or learned any of the vocabulary or grammar of language L2,
THEN,
That person will be unable to conduct conversation in language L2

So far, so good. This is either a syllogism, or some other closely related concept.(If it isn't,then I'd be glad to hear what it is)

Now, what I am trying to suggest is, that although this line of reasoning works 'front to back' as it were, it does not work the other way round, i.e.;

If a person cannot engage in conversation in language L2 it is
BECAUSE
they have not learned (enough?) vocabulary and grammar of L2.

This is, in my experience, definitely not the case, as many students spend many years acquiring large amounts of English vocab and grammar, but are tongue tied in unscripted, spontaneous spoken interactions.

So, what I'm asking is, is there a term for a syllogism-like series of propositions which works one way round, but is false when looked at from the other end of the telescope as it were?
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Re: What's the word for...?

#2  Postby katja z » Apr 22, 2012 3:04 pm

Essentially what you're suggesting is that learning L2 vocabulary and grammar is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for conducting conversation in L2, isn't it?

This seems a truism to me :tongue: but then I've spent a good portion of my life learning and using foreign languages on different levels and in different ways, and have had first-hand experience of excelling at written expression (with extensive knowledge of vocabulary and grammar) but being terrible at conversation in language A, and of being very fluent in conversation despite having only a shaky grasp of whole areas of grammar in language B.
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Re: What's the word for...?

#3  Postby Delvo » Apr 23, 2012 2:49 am

It's called an effect with multiple contributing causes/factors.
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Re: What's the word for...?

#4  Postby Thommo » Apr 23, 2012 4:36 am

The situation you describe is an implication with a false converse.

A statement "If A then B" is an implication, and its converse is the statement "If B then A". It is very common for statements not to have true converses.

I don't think there is a single word, but certainly the phrase mentioned by katja z "necessary but not sufficient condition" is in common usage to describe the situation. It can also be descibed as "A implies B, but is not equivalent to B" or somesuch.
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