At TEDxRainier, Patricia Kuhl shares astonishing findings about how babies learn one language over another -- by listening to the humans around them and "taking statistics" on the sounds they need to know. Clever lab experiments (and brain scans) show how 6-month-old babies use sophisticated reasoning to understand their world.
I'm a typical American, I only know one language. I also have a bit of a impediment in hearing some sounds. I was born and raised in the south (North Carolina) so according to the dialect maps I pronounce the words: pin, and pen the same. I also pronounce the words: hill, heal, heel the same. May be it's just me and not my dialect from Stanley County, NC. I also had a speech impediment as a child and with the help of parents and teachers I over came the impediment - I normalized.
I did the typical statical mapping as a toddler (6 -12 months) and fine tuned my audio cortex to distinguish certain sounds and ignore my ability to distinguish other sounds. Now I cannot distinguish those sounds.
This was pointed out this week with a training class, in which I could not pronounce the names of some of the participants. They were very gracious. But no one likes to have their names butchered.
So it may be easier in the future when we are all assimilated into the Borg, and we all just get a GUID (Global Unique IDentification) number.
In this class I used a technique of Fail-Successfully to address my poor ability to spell words correctly. I draw a "spell check" button on the board and explain that when I click it, they are to instantly make the corrections in their heads. People laugh at this subtle trick and for the rest of the workshop they allow me to be a very poor speller. By failing early in the session, we get beyond it and are on our way toward the bigger picture success - learning. Perhaps I need a similar trick with a babel-fish.
Map of American English Dialects
A National Map of the Regional Dialects of American English