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Not speaking your mother tongue for long

 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
42 messages over 6 pages: 1 2 3 46  Next >>
ChiaBrain
Bilingual Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4445 days ago

402 posts - 512 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish*
Studies: Portuguese, Italian, French
Studies: German

 
 Message 33 of 42
13 January 2009 at 9:48pm | IP Logged 
The big question is: what does this mean for Polyglottery?
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Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 5076 days ago

4474 posts - 6725 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 34 of 42
13 January 2009 at 9:59pm | IP Logged 
ChiaBrain wrote:
The big question is: what does this mean for Polyglottery?


It suggests you need some sort of maintenance. I'm aware of people who claim the contrary, and how much is needed seems to be a personal matter (as well as related to how deeply the language is burned into you), but some amount of 'staying in contact' with the language is usually considered a good idea.

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cordelia0507
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4475 days ago

1473 posts - 2176 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*
Studies: German, Russian

 
 Message 35 of 42
16 January 2009 at 3:07pm | IP Logged 
It's impossible to forget your mother-tongue. However rusty it gets you can always get back on track in a couple of weeks at the most!

Perhaps the situation gets more complicated for second generation immigrants, children from mixed nationality families etc. Does anybody have such experience?

I know a guy of Chinese origins who was born just after his parents emigrated from Hongkong. He says he could speak Cantonese well as a child, but now he really struggles and he cannot really read it.

The real problems is second languages. You forget if you don't practice. I spoke decent Spanish at one time, but with no practice for over a decade, it's half gone.
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ChiaBrain
Bilingual Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4445 days ago

402 posts - 512 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish*
Studies: Portuguese, Italian, French
Studies: German

 
 Message 36 of 42
16 January 2009 at 8:06pm | IP Logged 
That's pretty much my situation. I was born in the USA after my parents had been here
some time. I spoke only Spanish until I went to school. From then on we spoke both
languages at home; my parents speaking more in Spanish and us kids more in English.
In high-school they made us take Spanish lessons after school with a professor as the
Spanish in school was for beginners.

After high-school I pretty much abandoned Spanish; speaking it with relatives that did
not speak English and enough for the others to know I had not forgotten it.

Today I have far from lost Spanish but I think in English. English is really now my
native language of which I have a far greater command and vocabulary.

When I switch to Spanish I find that many phrases come to me in English and I end up
struggling to find a suitable translation. Sometimes I completely forget common words.
However, I do find I get better with a minimal amount of exposure. After a couple of
hours of speaking Spanish with my parents I begin to think more in Spanish. After
spending a day with them the following day I have words and phrases coming to me in
Spanish in the middle of my English thought-stream.

I also find that at home more Spanish words and phrases come to me.
I talk to my cats in Spanish. Nothing meaningful (of course) but, for example: if they
are annoying me I will say "NO JODAS!" (bad word version of "Don't bother me!") or
"Que tu quieres!?!?" ("What do you want!?!?"). Or when I'm leaving I will say "Me voy
pal carajo!" (equivalent of "I'm getting the Heck out of here.")















Edited by ChiaBrain on 16 January 2009 at 8:08pm

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Leopejo
Bilingual Triglot
Senior Member
Italy
Joined 4746 days ago

675 posts - 724 votes 
Speaks: Italian*, Finnish*, English
Studies: French, Russian

 
 Message 37 of 42
17 January 2009 at 5:18am | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:
It's impossible to forget your mother-tongue. However rusty it gets you can always get back on track in a couple of weeks at the most!

I disagree.

Quote:
Perhaps the situation gets more complicated for second generation immigrants, children from mixed nationality families etc. Does anybody have such experience?


I fall in the the "mixed parents" category. I was a perfectly native Finnish speaker until I moved to Italy at 10.

Now I have no native language.

My brother was 5 when we moved and is a perfectly native Italian speaker. On the other hand his Finnish is abysmal.
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cordelia0507
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4475 days ago

1473 posts - 2176 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*
Studies: German, Russian

 
 Message 38 of 42
17 January 2009 at 6:23am | IP Logged 
Yeah, Leopejo, yours is a complicated and unusual case...!
And you moved at the cross-roads age between child intuitive learning and adult rote learning... (I wonder if your parents considered the situation carefully, or if it was just a necessary move that could not be avoided...)

Do you think that this is the reason why you got interested in languages?

So how do native Italian and Finnish speakers regard you?
In which of those countries are you able to pass yourself off as a native?

Were you able to speak Italian before you moved there, or did you have to learn it from scratch?

The good news is that if you moved to a really cosmpopolitan city, like London, you'd blend in just fine and just be one of many mixed/international people who speak English with a faint accent. Expat Finns or Italians would sympathise with the situation and take you in. I have a fairly unconventional upbringing too - whereas in Sweden my situation is considered very strange, here in London it hardly registers with people




Edited by cordelia0507 on 17 January 2009 at 6:37am

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SlickAs
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 4514 days ago

185 posts - 287 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, French, Swedish
Studies: Thai, Vietnamese

 
 Message 39 of 42
17 January 2009 at 8:00am | IP Logged 
There are people in Montreal with no native language. But it is a special situation since there are 2 community languages. And the immigrants want to speak English (as the language of opportunity in North America), but need to speak French as the community language. It is kinda sad. My old barman is of Portugese descent, but my Argentinian mate spoke to him in Portugese and it is lacking. His English is more than functional, but not native. I got an e-mail from him in French and it was riddled with errors.

So it is bizare to say, but there are people out there with no native language.

That said, an adult with a true native language (not a 10 year old), who has been educated in it, and is articulate, he or she will never forget it. For christs sake, we have 65 year olds here in Australia who want to use their high-school French to show off to my girl-friend from 50 years ago. It is a pile of garbage, and really dated, speaking to her in the "vous", but it is nevertheless some-sort-of French. 50 years! A second language that they have studied for 4 years in the 1950's! They can still kind of speak it!

And you expect me to believe that an adult migrant will ever forget his/her native language? Dont think so.

Edited by SlickAs on 17 January 2009 at 8:05am

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Leopejo
Bilingual Triglot
Senior Member
Italy
Joined 4746 days ago

675 posts - 724 votes 
Speaks: Italian*, Finnish*, English
Studies: French, Russian

 
 Message 40 of 42
17 January 2009 at 8:16am | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:
Yeah, Leopejo, yours is a complicated and unusual case...!
And you moved at the cross-roads age between child intuitive learning and adult rote learning... (I wonder if your parents considered the situation carefully, or if it was just a necessary move that could not be avoided...)

They didn't consider that I think, but needless to say, they made the right choice. I would make it compulsory for everyone to live in at least two different countries in the course of their youth.

Quote:
Do you think that this is the reason why you got interested in languages?

My mum being a language teacher is probably more of a factor. But I started my first foreign language less than a year ago, at my venerand age.

Quote:
So how do native Italian and Finnish speakers regard you?
In which of those countries are you able to pass yourself off as a native?

In written Italian it's difficult to beat me. In speaking, they usually think I come from another Italian region. Especially open/closed vowels give me out as not a native Florentine, or più, which I tend to pronounce pi-u. Finnish it's more difficult for me to pass as a native, surely not in speaking (you should hear my Italianized paljon). In writing I can cheat but not for long. I'll write my immortal novels in Italian.

Quote:
Were you able to speak Italian before you moved there, or did you have to learn it from scratch?

We spoke Italian at home. But it's school and friends who really mold you and your language. My Finnish was perfect. Instead my Italian not so much. I remember as if it were yesterday, that once I was on a walk with dad and we were speaking of future happenings. To express a month, like November, I had to say "two months after September". I was embarassed.

On the other hand, when I moved to Italy at 10, my brain changed faster from Finnish to Italian than from markka to lira. Some years ago I found a poem I had written at 8-9 years of age in Finnish, and didn't recognize half of the words.

Quote:
The good news is that if you moved to a really cosmpopolitan city, like London, you'd blend in just fine and just be one of many mixed/international people who speak English with a faint accent. Expat Finns or Italians would sympathise with the situation and take you in. I have a fairly unconventional upbringing too - whereas in Sweden my situation is considered very strange, here in London it hardly registers with people

I'm really happy with my linguistic and life adventures. If not being 100 % native in any language is the price to pay, I'm gladly willing to.

Edited by Leopejo on 17 January 2009 at 8:18am



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