Life as a Language Learning Challenge
What I've referred to as "the AJATT method" is really more of a lifestyle. You're not looking to acquire the target language, but to become a native speaker of that language. Or if you prefer, to become a person who uses it the way native speakers do--to access all the stuff you want to access. Like cool music--though I admit that Germany never comes to mind first when I think of music.
Welches ist aehnlich dieses Lieblingsliedes?
Oder welches gefaellt Sie besten?
I wish I could find the AJATT post in which Khatz says that no matter what kind of music you like, you will find someone making it in your target language. So go ahead and dump your L1 favourites and look for some new L2 ones. Find out who your long-lost identical twin would have been! Mine listens to Tim Bendzko in the car. But, I suspect, not just Tim Bendzko.
The goal to become a native speaker may seem impossible, but Khatz isn't the only language learner in the world who has become so fluent in his L2 that those who were born native speakers think that he is one of them. But the main reason I think he's on to something is that something like that has already happened to me. Twice.
"Ich bin an zwei verschiedenen Orten zur selbst Zeit . . ."
It's Frankenstein-ish, almost, to construct a parallel identity for yourself out of bits of Deutsch culture (and another out of Italiano culture). Assuming that this is how personalities come to be, we've already done it in our first languages, the main difference being that we didn't really control what bits we used in the construction. We used everything--at least until we grew conscientious enough to reject some of it. But how often can I say of something German (or Italian) that I'd rather not assimilate it, before the project to be a "cradle speaker" fails? Are there non-negotiables in culture?
I really should be answering my own questions. You see, I've already done all that to create my English-speaking self. My ability to speak (and to blog in) the language today has more to do with exposure to English media than actual people speaking English around me. So the question for all native speakers of English is: Could I pass as one of you?
Maybe? Maybe not? When I lived in New Zealand, my English was so perfect (local idioms aside, of course) that the locals were convinced I was an American. Of course, real Americans who hear me never think that I'm one of them--though I wonder whether Americans who only read me can be lulled into thinking it. (Oh, look, American readers! There's a combox down there . . .)
And if you're wondering how I came up with the phrase "cradle speaker" . . . Last week, the nice family at Saturday's Latin Mass gave me a ride home in their van. I sat next to the grandmother, who asked me how I got into traditional stuff, like Latin and veiling and Communion on the tongue while kneeling. She didn't believe that it all came from books, TV, and blogs. Surely, she argued, my own grandmother had passed something on. (Ah, wouldn't that have been nice? =P) And no matter what I put forward as evidence to the contrary, she insisted that there was no way I hadn't grown up around traditional stuff. In the end, I just smiled and let her think what she liked. A classic case of "native speakers" of Traditional Catholicism assuming that I was born one of them--that is, that I received traditional things in a traditional way--because they have no idea that there is more than one way to do it.
I'm sure that all the converts I haven't scared away yet can figure out the takeaway for themselves.