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Decline in Native Language?

  Tags: Native Language
 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
23 messages over 3 pages: 1 2
United States
Joined 2735 days ago

18 posts - 21 votes
Speaks: English*, German, Japanese
Studies: Spanish, Dutch

 Message 17 of 23
16 June 2015 at 2:09am | IP Logged 
kanewai wrote:
chaotic_thought wrote:
I'll take the bagel sunny-side-up. Seriously,
what words are
normally used to describe how a bagel is prepared??

Buttered. Toasted. With cream cheese. Basic things, really, but all I could think was
"I just want a bagel."

Haha, I suppose it's hard to think when you're hungry. :P
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 3235 days ago

991 posts - 1893 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, English, Spanish, French, Romansh, German, Italian
Studies: Russian, Catalan, Latin, Greek, Romanian

 Message 18 of 23
16 June 2015 at 12:07pm | IP Logged 
Arthaey wrote:
Ogrim wrote:
I've been living abroad for the last 20 years ... I use certain words and forms that sound old-fashioned to my younger relatives.

Do you think this is even more than what naturally happens simply by being 20 years older than "kids these days"? Older folks always sound a little old-fashioned to their younger relatives, even without adding additional languages or living abroad to the mix, right? :)

That is true, and for a 20-something I am probably "older folk", regardless of how I feel myself:) Still, I think in my case my language is more old-fashioned than that of Norwegians of the same generation who have always lived in Norway. After all, most of us adapt our language as the language evolves - just little things like new expressions, or words, which most natives living the country will accept and use themselves.

Just an example, I discovered a few years ago that Norwegians have started using the English (American?) expression "it sucks" - but translated it into Norwegian as "det suger". It took me a while before I realised what was meant (the same as the English expression - something bad/negative), and to me it just seems strange, but now you can even find it written in Norwegian newspapers, like in this headline in the newspaper Dagbladet, which quotes the chess world champion Magnus Carlsen saying "It was not chess, it was just nonsense. It sucks."

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Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3679 days ago

124 posts - 215 votes 
Speaks: Serbo-Croatian, English*, Catalan, Spanish, Polish
Studies: Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Occitan, Punjabi, Urdu, Arabic (Maghribi), French, Modern Hebrew, Ukrainian, Slovenian

 Message 19 of 23
16 June 2015 at 12:15pm | IP Logged 
I've been living outside of Australia for nearly four years now and sometimes I make weird
constructions or literal translations from other languages.

-One of the things that used to bother me was constantly forgetting the word elective
(always saying "optative... optional subject?"; in Catalan it's called "optativa"). I to
this day have no idea how to say anar d'oient (to go to a lecture without signing up,
i.e. without paying or doing the exam, unofficially), and I imagine there are other academic
terms that come faster to me in Catalan than in English.

-One of the worst mistakes I made was when I was talking about how Polish people in Wroclaw
wait for the green light to come on before crossing the street; I said "they check on the
lights" ("to wait" in Polish is czekać and in Serbian it's čekati).

-When I went back to Australia last I forgot the rules of politness when ordering things in
stores, I would say "I'll have an egg sandwhich" (similar to how you could say it in
Serbian) instead of "I'd like an egg sandwhich".

-I literally translated the expression "posar els collons damunt la taula" (put one's balls
on the table). In Catalan it's a cliched expression so it's not really that vulgar (similar
to how "that sucks" in English is so mundane that no-one really thinks about its vulgar
origin), but when I said it in English it made my friends think about the literal image of
someone's testicles.

In reality though this is all anecdotal. When I spend even a month in Australia I notice
that I start to think almost entirely in English (whereas over here I think in more than one
language) and start to lose my active command of Catalan, so I'm not really worried. It's
more funny than anything else really.

Edited by Saim on 16 June 2015 at 12:19pm

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Senior Member
United States
Joined 5113 days ago

195 posts - 185 votes 
2 sounds
Speaks: English*, Japanese
Studies: Ukrainian

 Message 20 of 23
23 July 2015 at 2:30am | IP Logged 
I have actually been having an issue with a decline in my native English ability since studying Japanese, particularly in writing. I think that these sort of issues are common among language learners in general, but they are particularly troublesome for people studying Japanese (in my opinion). Japanese sentence structure is very loose, and you can freely begin your sentence one way, flip it around halfway through and still be understood. The use of particles helps you create a road map between words without rigid syntax. Japanese sentence structure, being SOV also flexes your mind in different ways than usual. A lack of plural noun forms, articles, and oftentimes the subject of the sentence makes context very important in Japanese, and I find that in English I expect the same power of context when I really should be articulating my point more clearly...

In a way, I think it "opens" your mind to new structures and ways of expression that don't translate well when switching back to English.
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Korea, South
Joined 2905 days ago

5 posts - 9 votes
Speaks: Finnish*, English
Studies: Korean

 Message 21 of 23
11 August 2015 at 6:14pm | IP Logged 
Oh yes, I've been living in Korea for almost three years now, and my Finnish always gets
worse when staying in Korea, but when I go back to Finland for vacation, my Finnish gets
back to what it was before I left. But whenever I go back to Finland, I feel so stupid as
the words just don't come out of my mouth as I intend to and I feel so uncomfortable
talking to people that I do not know or to older people since there is no formal language
in Finnish but in Korean you always have to use very formal language in those situations.
Last time when I visited Finland was the worst since I hadn't been there for a year and
then when I went back it was so awkward talking in the beginning, especially for the
first few days and after I got out of the plane.

So yeah, it's possible to forget even your native language of you don't use it, but as
soon as you start using it again it will get back to normal.
2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 4594 days ago

220 posts - 323 votes 
Speaks: English*, Mandarin
Studies: Cantonese, Polish, Spanish, French

 Message 22 of 23
28 August 2015 at 9:37am | IP Logged 
LFD1988 wrote:
I am curious to know if others have experienced this phenomenon.

Yes and it baffled me at the time! In China. I was working on a computer 10 hours a
day or more 5 days a week, getting perfectly native English input from reading. Yet, I
would have serious problems truly knowing if certain seemingly very trivial things
were right or wrong. It never happened in my own writing, generating my own speech,
that I'd encounter such problems. It was always when an outside party brought in a way
of saying something and caused me to think about something I myself hadn't generated.

Now I know this has EVERYTHING to do with the poisoned English in your environment.
Because now I work at home in the USA and rarely have contact with another person, and
I'm still reading English 10+ hours a day on my screen. But I no longer have any
doubts about anything, pretty much ever.
1 person has voted this message useful

Trilingual Hexaglot
Senior Member
Joined 4680 days ago

154 posts - 210 votes 
Speaks: Russian, English*, Czech*, Slovak*, French, Spanish
Studies: Ukrainian, Polish, Dutch

 Message 23 of 23
03 February 2016 at 12:00pm | IP Logged 
Yes, I have experienced a decline in my native languages. Actually since I have grown up multilingual, I have several languages where I consider myself a native speaker. However due to the fact that I don't live in an environment where any of these languages are the native language of the country I live in and I very rarely come into contact with native speakers of those languages, my native languages have declined to such a level that I seem to have some sort of a non-native accent in all of them.

Czech used to be my first language when I was a kid, but that has deteriorated to such a level that I no longer feel comfortable speaking it. I am still fluent so C2 in the language, but I keep getting comments on my strange accent and can't always structure things well.

Similar with my English (American). I consider English as one of my native languages, although I learned it later. I have always had an American accent, so everyone has always thought I was American. However in the past 2 or 3 years I have almost never had any interactions with any native speakers and instead am surrounded by non-native speakers of the language, so my accent has suffered...

I live in the Benelux area...

Edited by showtime17 on 03 February 2016 at 12:02pm

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