chapter  31
18 Pages

Reading Acquisition in Different Orthographies: Evidence from Direct Comparisons

ByKarin Landerl

Mark Twain, the famous American novelist, tried hard to learn German. But when the keeper of a museum in Heidelberg told him that his German was “very special, probably unique” and should be added to a collection of curiosities, he came to the conclusion that “a gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronunciation) in thirty hours, French in thirty days, and German in thirty years. It seems manifest, then, that the latter tongue ought to be trimmed down and repaired. If it is to remain as it is, it ought to be gently and reverently set aside among the dead languages, for only the dead have time to learn it” (Twain, 1880).