Is It Possible to Forget Your Native Language?

While it may not seem possible for many to forget your native language, it is actually possible. In this article, we will examine how this situation can happen.

Even those who have never spoken or heard of the mother tongues for decades, even those who have never spoken or heard of it, may remember their native language years later, while others start to lose between 3 and 5 years, when they do not use the fluency they have in their native language. Although it is not clear why this manifests differently in each individual, according to Dr Monika Schmid, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Essex in England, people who plan not to lose their narration skills should practice frequently on the languages they know.

It’s quite rare for people to forget their first language. For the most part, people may experience the problem, called “language wear,” which occurs in the form of having difficulty remembering certain words or phrases or using interesting grammar structures. The typical type of attrition can usually be corrected, but this is also closely related to the person’s history of speaking the language in question. If a person practiced well on the mother tongue during adolescence, it would be quite simple to reverse these effects. But for many children who leave the country where they belong and do not speak their native language often, it will be very difficult for them to remember anything from the mother tongue when they grow up.

A 2004 study published in the Journal of Neurolinguistics found that a group of children, all adopted by the French, who left South Korea in childhood and adopted by the French, were observed. When this group, now in its 30s, was spoken in Korean, they were found to be completely foreign to the language. However, in language examinations, they were not much different from those who were not subjected to Asian dialect in any way and were native French.

“Ten years after you’ve been exposed to a culture different from the culture you grew up in, it’s rarely possible to start thinking and dreaming about this new language.” — Dr. Aneta Pavlenko (University of Temple in Philadelphia)

Not only is it a common reason for attrition of not using the language, but experts also believe that forgetting the language is a natural adaptive (cohesive) response so that they can learn a second language better. Due to limited cognitive resources, the more people develop in a second language, the more problems they have in their first language. In addition, concussions and psychological traumas can cause an effective loss in language fluency. The researchers, who conducted studies on German-Jews fleeing the Nazi genocide, found that the trauma and suffering of people and the severity of their tongues were directly proportional.

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