Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back from holiday

Two major events happening in my holidays.

First, the meltdown on the investment banks. WOW! The Masters of the Universe are gone just like that. Bear Stearns (for which I worked as a risk manager, see a previous post) gone, Lehman Brothers gone, Merrill Lynch bought up, and Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs becoming commercial banks. They all need liquidity to work, and they could not get sufficient liquidity anymore. It will change Wall Street and finance forever, after all they were the drivers of most innovations and hired the brightest, most focused, hard-working people around.
Second, the message is going around that bilingualism is a risk factor in non-recovery of stuttering based on research done by Prof. Howell's team at University College London. The Welcome Trust has financed the research and is pushing the message: see here. Here is the summary:
Bilingual children who learn two languages in early childhood are more likely to develop stuttering than those who speak another language in the home and do not learn English until they attend school, according to research funded by the Wellcome Trust.
I will have a closer look and tell you my impression. Two immediate thoughts: bilingualism means more work for the brain but would it affect stuttering, and the sub-sample of bilingual kids is too small and induces large statistical uncertainty. But I need to read the article and do the statistical calculations.


Einar said...

The idea of bilinguism sounds good, now I have another source to blame my stuttering on, next to lefthandedness or how about having walked under a ladder or having seen a black cat? Hmm, no... ;-)

Jack said...

Very, very interesting.

I'm "tri"-lingual so I wonder if that's made it even worse...

Of course the advantage is when I speak with someone who understands the same languages I do then I can seamlessly switch between then when I feel a block coming on :)

woodpaul said...

Hm, that's interesting...

My father is Hungarian, my mother is Russian, so I've learnt these two languages parallely in my childhood.

I wonder how many of us are bilingual!


Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure about this research--the incidence of stuttering is pretty consistent across cultures and countries. If what these researchers claim is right, though, there should be much more stuttering occurring in places like Europe, where bi- and multilingualism is prevalent, compared to, say, the US, where most people only speak one language. I'll have to look into the study more closely, but from the surface of it, it doesn't sound that convincing to me!

Anonymous said...

Tom -
Thanks for sharing about this study. I, too, am interested in it's findings.

My observation on almost all of the research in stuttering that I have reviewed is that the researchers do the research in a manner that supports what they thought prior to beginning the "research". Very little true research is done by the professionals in stuttering. Kinda "crappy crap crap" research to me.

BTW - I see that the Stuttering Foundation of America has recently discovered there is an emotional component of stuttering that may need to be addressed in therapy! Kudo's to Jane Fraser and the experts at the SFA! WOW!!!

Will Onslow and his Aussie group stumble upon this revelation now?

Anxiously Waiting...