PERFORMANCE IN ENGLISH :A TEST /MEASURE OF INTELLIGENCE… OR NOT [part3]

In explaining the creative/productive features common to all language, Adedun (2010) posits that despite the fact that there are laid down rules that govern the use of language, the users, yes the skilful users, often possess the potential to…create a desired effect or impact… His position therefore establishes the personal input of the language user in the essence or quality of what he/she says with his/her language. What can only be said is that some languages are more developed than others are. However, this does not depreciate the value of such language.

No language has an independent existence of its own, but a particular language dominates when its speakers dominate and vice-versa. History shows that a language becomes a global language due to the political power of its native speakers, and the economic power with which it is able to maintain and expand its position (Luke Mastin).  

Worthy of mention is the fact that the English language was, at a point in history, not regarded as a language to be spoken by the ‘elite’ hence was described as a vulgar language – a vernacular. Around 11th century, the nobility of England spoke French and Latin while the common people (masses) spoke varieties of old English. It wasn’t until later in 16th century Britain that English established its position as the national language. Thus, the English went through a series transformation, lexical and grammatical adjustments before it became the most desirable language that it is today. Interestingly, the language is known to tap from other languages to strengthen its vocabulary has over three quarters of the words in modern English, particularly the more learned terms, are borrowed from other languages.

The idea that the ability to speak English – due to its prestigious status as a world language – is a measure of intelligence does not hold water. If it were to be true, great thinkers like AristotlePlato,   ConfuciusFlorianBuddhaGhandi, who made marks on the sands of history, would not be regarded as intelligent. These sages were of Greek, Chinese, Roman and Indian origins and wrote in their respective languages. In fact, the works of someone like Aristotle has come to be one of the most referenced in English literature.  

One can only make a case for intelligence as it relates to the closed group of mainly English speaking people. In this case, the distinction will have to do with the display of intelligence between the native speakers of English (L1speakers) and speakers of English as a second language (L2speakers). The native speakers of English have linguistic competence (intuitive knowledge) of their language. They simply acquire the language naturally and do not need to be taught its rudiments (except for the written aspect). The speaker of the English language as a second language however has to learn it. He does not have an in-built knowledge of its vocabulary and grammar. He therefore requires a level of linguistic intelligence (much more than that of the native speaker) in order to learn and use the language competently.   

Certain facts concerning the relevance of English in respect to its speaker(s) cannot be overlooked. For one, the language has risen to a status in which its learning/acquisition and effective use accords its speaker greater prestige and social relevance. Due to its position has a global language, one who speaks it has the benefit to reach a wider audience and make more impact. In addition, since there is a cordial relationship between language and power, the speaker of the English language has a level of social, economic, and political advantage/edge over those who can’t speak it. These privileges notwithstanding, nothing about its use suggest a yardstick for intelligence.                    

What makes a language prominent is not the language in itself but the value attached to it. For instance, factors like the population of the speakers, its spread, its socialeconomicpoliticaltechnological relevance etc. determines language status. English or any other language cannot be a measure of intelligence. English, like any other language, is merely a medium of expression. The language doesn’t reflect intelligence; rather, the user does. For example, there are those who are fluent in the spoken English but hardly express intelligent opinions. 

It’s one thing that the English speaker is intelligent (by himself) and then communicates his intelligence via English. In that case, what makes him intelligent is not the fact that he can speak good English but that he is sound upstairs enough to use English to express himself. Take the Chinese, Indian, Hebrew, Japanese languages as case study. The bulk of progress recorded in technology and science comes from those areas. Interestingly, their citizens are not English speakers. In fact, they don’t encourage its use. Yet they have geniuses and world record breakers in their numbers. 

On a lighter note, what would you say about my grandfather who can’t say wa kin pa e (literally-come, let me kill you) in English but exudes wisdom? Truth is most people just hide under the cover of fluent English to shield their ‘foolishness’. Average folks here their fluent speaking and due to inferiority complex think this set of English speakers are better off than they are. 

No language is a decimal for intelligence. The speaker invests the language with the prestige and ‘glory’ it attains. 
Image credit:Sarcasm (Facebook) 
©ayansolaibukun 

Advertisements

PERFORMANCE IN ENGLISH :A TEST/MEASURE OF INTELLIGENCE…OR NOT [part2]

Linguistic relativity is that field of knowledge that considers the idea that language and its structures influence and limit human thought. Works in this field has established the fact that language has less influence on thinking than one might suppose. Recent research as shown that although language may have some influence on our thinking, it does not affect out underlying understanding of concepts. Also, intelligence is more related to successful educational, occupational, economic, and social manifestations than any other variable(s) – such as language. 

Scholars like Skinner (1965) has opined that language learning/acquisition and development occurs through principles of associationreinforcement and the observation of others. Other than performance in English (or any language), biological factors such as brain volume, speed of neural transmission and working memory capacity are most reliable quotients for intelligence. In the informed opinion of Charles Stranger, it’s our vast intelligence that allows us to have language… language only gives the ability to communicate our intelligence to others. Steven Pinker poetically explains Stranger’s idea when he says language is the jewel in the crown of cognition. High linguistic (language) ability and high general intelligence can be at least partially separate and not necessarily intertwined. 

So far, from what we can glean from the concepts of linguistic and general intelligence, the claim that speaking English is a measure of intelligence does not hold water.        

To further argue against the claim in questions, it’s apt to briefly examine the concept of language and its entailments in relations the presumed ‘superiority’ of English.

Countless definitions of language abound but that of Henry Sweet will suffice. He describes language as the expression of ideas by means of speech sounds combined into words… The operative words in his definition will be expression of ideas. Note that the word idea is a subset of intelligence i.e. the stuff of idea is dependent on the level of intelligence. For instance, an intelligent mind is most likely to conceive sound ideas and vice-versa. Therefore, just like Stranger’s informed opinion, Sweet posits that language, whether English or Hispanic is merely a tool/medium of expression. A Spaniard will make much sense as a Briton or American with his language.  

It’s common knowledge among language experts that no language is ‘superior’ in itself and that no language can be considered to be inferior to others. All human languages represent extremely complex systems of communication. Folks who live in the so-called third-world countries use languages that are as intricate and versatile as those spoken in the most highly developed societies. All languages are flexible enough to adapt and expand to the needs of its speakers. It’s illogical to privilege the language of a particular language community – nation, tribe, or region (English in focus) over another just because that community enjoys global prestige. Such distinction is sociologically motivated and not linguistic.               Gretchen McCulloch puts the preceding statement in clearer terms when he argues that

  •  languages or dialects that people think of as “better” reflect a social (and often racist) judgement about who has power or who is considered more important, not anything intrinsic about the language itself.   

From a linguistic standpoint, every human language shares the common features of being system-based (governed by a set of rules), arbitrariness (lack of relationship between a word and what it refers to), dynamism (keeps changing with time), culture-dependent (reflects the culture of group of people), displacement (ability to use language to refer to things outside the scope of a current speech situation), reciprocity (an exchange between at least two people), discreteness (uniqueness of the individual sounds of a language), innateness (intrinsic ability of every ‘normal’ human to use language), creativity and productivity (ability to skilfully manipulate words to create desired effects). 

to be continued… 

Image credit: Sarcasm (Facebook) 
©ayansolaibukun 

TELL IT NOT IN GATH! 

I love the man David. He asked to tell it not in Gath!

You see, this man David had an archenemy in the person of King Saul – he was a man anointed by God to shepherd the flock of Israel. He however fell out of favour with Him due to his disobedient and unrepentant attitude. 

Knowing David to be the one chosen in his stead by God, as king over Israel, Saul began a life-haunting campaign against David. On several occasions, David had to run from pillar to post, valleys to mountains in an attempt to avert Saul’s unmerited wrath against him. Interestingly, each time Saul fell into his trap , he restrained his men from killing or hurting him. Don’t you know he his God’s anointed, he’ll tell them. Saul was like that proverbial stray dog; he never heeded the calls of restraint and sound counsels. Anyway, while still keeping deadly tabs on David, he met his waterloo at the war with the Philistines – there the man died

What else could have been pleasant news for David? What else should have given him a cause to rejoice? Everyone in Israel knew of Saul’s blood lust towards David (who had already earned the majority’s goodwill) hence, in their thinking, the news of his death should bring relief and joy to the persecuted David. 

Relying on this notion, this smart Amalekite, who had been at the scene of the battle and witnessed Saul’s death, took it on himself to take the good tidings to David. He even reconstructed the story of how Saul died. He (Saul) pleaded with me to kill him and I did, he lied. I’m sure Sir David will compensate me richly for taking out his enemy, he must have thought.  

David’s reaction to the news stuns me. I was here thinking oh boy, David’s banger don ripe be that o. Instead, he fasted, wept and mourned the loss of a man who sought to kill him. How dare you raise your hand against the Lord’s anointed ? he questions the Amalekite in fury. He got an instant death for his service. What more, David wrote a lamentation for Saul. He described Saul, his sons and other fallen men as the mighty. He declared:

  • Tell not the story of their defeat in Gath!
  • Publish it not in the streets of Askelon;
  • Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice;
  • Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.

In present day reality, the instruction would have read: circulate not/ make not a fuss of it on social media (especially Facebook and WhatsApp).

I feel sad when I see so-called Christians make a mockery of a man of God who are caught in a fault, especially when such a man is not of their denomination or doctrinal persuasion. I knew/said it! they’ll declare triumphantly. I knew the man was up to no good. I’m even surprised it took this long for him to be exposed.  The rate at which folks sponsor such news bemuses even the unbeliever. 

Bros, do me a favour: if you are in the company of this self-righteous mockers, hang your head in shame and learn from David. He wasn’t even a new-creation believer neither did he have the luxury of God’s word which you have today. Yet, he did wisely.

Perhaps we should come to acknowledge that men of God (and by extension, men in the position of spiritual leadership) are flesh and blood like everyone else with like feelings and affections. Yes, they are meant to be spiritually mature but not infallible. They are  also liable to mistakes and inadequacies. Their shortcomings nevertheless, they are the anointed of God and should be so reverenced. 

The writer of Hebrews expresses the mind of most ministers when he admonishes believers to:

Keep praying for us, for we are convinced that we have a good (clear) conscience, that we want to walk uprightly and live a noble life, acting honourably and in complete honesty in all things. Heb13:8 [Amp]

Simply put, he starts by saying: folks, we need your prayers. Yes ,we are sure we have a good conscience (as believers). However, through your prayers (which is the supply of the Spirit); we’ll continue to act honourably and in complete honesty in all things.
The apostle Paul, a great man of faith, never at any point thought he was self-sufficient. Throughout his epistles, he kept imploring brethren, pray for us! 

Apostle Peter who was the lead apostle and by extension the overseer of the early church, made quite a number of mistakes (see Acts 5:1-10, Gal 2:11-14…). This didn’t however disqualify him; rather, he was still used mightily by God. Paul didn’t find Mark worthy enough to journey with him initially (Acts 15:38). He however, testified of him as profitable for the ministry later on (2Tim4:11). The man in 1Cor5:1 did despicably and was duly “punished” for it. Paul however counselled that he be forgiven and comforted in 2Cor2:5-8. 

You are at best a selfish Christian if you don’t pray for your spiritual leaders. You are however disgusting if all you do, when they sometimes go wrong, is mock them make a business out of it. When you go about your public show of shame on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp, you give cause for the daughters of the Philistines (unbelievers) to rejoice and mock the gospel.

When you find a man overtaken in a fault, the instruction for you (if you are indeed spiritually mature) is to restore such a one – not celebrate his supposedly downfall (Gal6:1). In case you think the men God testified about were infallible and never had a moment of misconduct, take a quick journey into Hebrews 11 – you will be shocked. 

Stop being a busybody. Get busy with the gospel. Stand in the gap for your spiritual leaders. Be genuinely concerned  about the misconduct  of a fellow believer and do your best to restore him.

If your blood were pristine, God wouldn’t have needed to send his son. Perhaps you could have been the sacrifice for our sins.     

If God wouldn’t write of a man or strike out his name for a misconduct, who are you to? 
©ayansolaibukun