What is language attrition, and why do I think I may be affected by it? Is it really possible to forget your native language? Let's take a look at this fascinating and little-researched phenomenon.
Language attrition is the progressive loss of a language due to lack of use. It’s a little known but relatively common phenomenon that can happen to people who have little or no very much used with their language of origin, such as they are in English Medium in their study. And also advised to practice English at home so that they can do better in education.
Someone became interested in language attrition due to a fear that their own native language was beginning to deteriorate. This sentence sounds common when some one lived in a foreign country far from the linguistic milieu of Bangla, where some one was born and grew up. But is it sound okay when some live in his/her own mother land?
Knowledge of your native language feels different to other sorts of knowledge. It’s a vital, foundational, a priori knowledge that’s intricately wound up with your notion of identity. Intuitively, it feels like it should be solid and stable and that it shouldn’t deteriorate when neglected. Like your favorite childhood teddy bear in the attic, it might collect dust, but it shouldn’t lose its stuffing. It’s discomforting and unusual to feel a loss of control over this knowledge, which we believe to be so deeply ingrained within our brains.
To many people reading this, the notion of losing one’s mother tongue may seem absurd, as if we’re indulging in exaggeration. That same absurdity tugs at us whenever a word skips the mind and eludes the tongue, leading to a nagging embarrassment. So what’s the deal? Is it really possible to forget your mother tongue?
I speak, therefore I am
I’d like to introduce you to Ariyana is one of my friends daughter. From an early age she was surrounded by a heady mix of languages mean Bangla and English. Her parents are service holder in a multi national company and used to have rush in their daily life. They use English more than Bangla to communicate with Ariyana from her toddler time. So, Ariyana is familiar with Banglish. She called mom and dad. At her school she is not allowed to speak Bangla as it is a renowned English medium in Dhaka. She found herself incapable of communicating comfortably in any family program especially with all her relatives in a marriage ceremony or in a family picnic.
The case of Ariyana is very particular. He existed at a confluence of social, psychological and family pressures. She grew up in a multilingual environment, where "cultures came together." she was subject to deep psychological suffering dealing with the language practice. Sometime she can’t read the signboards and can’t understand some words clearly whenever she wants to read a poem and literature. She can’t understand the songs clearly when it is played in school ground on February, March and December. The language, in which we, as kids, said our first words, externalized our first experiences and constructed our subjective reality? This appears to have happened to Ariyana under extraordinary conditions, but can it also happen under more normal conditions?
"Language is the soul and the spirit of things." (Haviva Pedaya)
How is it possible to forget a language?
When we learn a foreign language, we do it through our mother tongue. We translate unfamiliar words and often insert them into familiar grammatical structures. Little by little, the new language takes root in our minds. We start to become accustomed to the new sounds, and we begin to use the language in a more direct and automatic way, without necessarily having to reference the original language. We start to speak the new language with a degree of fluency.
Multiple linguistic systems can be active simultaneously in the brain of someone who becomes bilingual, or multilingual, later in life. Language attrition can occur due to these languages impacting upon and interfering with one another. Depending on the frequency with which the linguistic systems are activated, one can become dominant while the other sinks into the depths of our memory in such a way that it becomes difficult for our brain to recall it (or aspects of it).
This attrition tends to make itself evident in the constriction of the speaker’s vocabulary, while knowledge of grammar (structure) and phonology (sound) remains more stable. A speaker’s attitude and motivation toward his or her new and native languages can also have an effect on language attrition. This can, perhaps, be most starkly illustrated by ariyana aforementioned.
During my sister first few months in USA, she had very little to do with fellow expatriates and, consequently, spoke very little English: the will to transform herself into a fluent, independent English speaker obliged her to progressively inhibit her mother tongue, allowing it less and less space within her daily life. Words naturally began to come out from her mouth in English, and she found herself code-switching — mixing Bangla and English within the same sentence at home in Florida— because she blanked in one of them. She found herself, for example, translating common English sayings into Bangla when speaking with us in our native language along with her 2 years old daughter in Florida. So it also impacts her daughter Shaiyara. Shaiyara said আমি গিটার খেলবো as Bangla translation of I will play guitar when she visited Bangladesh at her age of 11 years old.
Such confusion is indicative of momentary conflict between the two linguistic systems. Sometimes she even struggle to pronounce certain words or lose her normal intonation, suggesting that these momentary conflicts may also occur at the phonological level, and that my second language interferes with my sense for my native language’s musicality.
The using pattern of Bangla language in drama and other program has transformed into a new one mixing with Bangla, English and local. It is horrible to listen. Specially the Radio RJ. The young generation been fond of it and has common among all. The words like সেরম,জটিল,জাক্কাস,জোস,, words replace the nice words like ভালো, সুন্দর, দারুন. Beside the lyrics has also been transformed into so called modern hip hop. We can exampled a lot. Recently a report on Ekushay book Fair-2018 been broadcast in TV channel that there are lot of new books arrived in the book fair but the quality of the writing is not satisfactory except the renowned some. On the other hand proof reading has not been done perfectly event in the famous writers’ book also. Time has come to be alert.
Schooling & Mother Tongue
Teachers and parents marvel at how quickly our young children seem to absorb conversational Bangla in their initial schooling years. However, parents and teachers need to be aware of the fragility of the mother tongue. The early years (Before Pre-Kindergarten - 2nd Grade) are also when children are extremely susceptible to both losing the ability to use their mother tongue, even in the home context. It is strongly recommends that families only speak in their mother tongue to their children, particularly throughout these early years of learning. The children are exposed to English throughout their school day at here, and are provided ample time and positive nourishment to engage in, explore, and flourish in the English language so school teacher also need to be care here to use Bangla also. When the children return home, they should also return to their home language, and it is the interference of English tutoring. We are strongly encourages families to use the mother tongue extensively in their homes, the community, and other outside school experiences. Parents have the power to eliminate the risk of their children losing mother tongue language and skills by providing opportunities for conversations that entail rich language use in the mother tongue. This will not only support maintaining the mother tongue, but enhance Bangla language learning in addition to other languages they may choose to later learn.
Mother Tongue and Second Language
The level of development of children's mother tongue is a strong predictor of their second language development.
Children who come to school with a solid foundation in their mother tongue develop stronger literacy abilities in the school language. When parents and other caregivers create time to spend time with their children and tell stories or discuss issues with them in a way that develops their mother tongue vocabulary and concepts, children come to school well-prepared to learn the school language and succeed educationally. Children's knowledge and skills transfer across languages from the mother tongue they have learned in the home to the school language. From the point of view of children's development of concepts and thinking skills, the two languages are interdependent. Transfer across languages can be two-way: when the mother tongue is accepted at school and promoted at home, the concepts, language, and literacy skills that children are learning in the majority language can transfer to the home language. In short, both languages nurture each other when the educational and home environment permits children access to both languages.
We are the nation who fought for mother tongue and our heroes sacrifices their lives for it. It is our pride that needs to be preserved with respect. It was constitutionally ordered that Bangla should the language use officially. But it is unfortunate that gradually English has replaced our mother tongue also in officially. We don’t have any hostility towards English as International Language but we should have our feelings towards Bangla as it is also an international language besides our mother Tongue. Some though using English is grace but using correct Bangla is more grace then that, they don’t apprehend. Here we can mention the Japanese as a nation and their touch and law to use their language in formal. Here Government law and order may work. As it is our emotion.
Don’t leave me…
While there is scant research into how exactly the frequency of language usage correlates to attrition, studies seem to suggest that the quality of contact with the native language carries greater import than the quantity, or frequency, of its use: exposure to other emigrants undergoing attrition and speakers of your native language may actually accelerate your own language attrition, and this constellation is very common among expat communities.
Language is alive, in constant flux and has an emotional force. Its assimilation in the brain not only resides in memory (more specifically, the Broca and Wernicke area), but also in the limbic system (where emotions are "located" — along with all your dirty swear words). Whether we learn a language for love, career or to retrace our roots — as happened to us with English — a second language can achieve dominance in the hierarchy of languages in our brain. If the first language gains negative connotations, its suppression or loss can also be accelerated. This loss represents the disappearance of one of the first things we ever inherit, and a foundational building block of our identity. Ariyana & Shaiyara have compared this with physical deterioration, saying, "A man who loses his mother tongue is sick for life."
Finally we don’t want our child to overlook the sacrifice of the fighter who battled for Bangla as a mother Tongue or to remember it for a day. It is our pride and we need to preserve it therefore. Our children should have the environment both in home and school to learn , practice and respect their mother tongue so that they can understand the second language properly. It will help them to be a good national and a proficient in long rum with their own Identity. We obviously need to have the skill in English an international language but first should have the flawless skill in Bangla as not only an mother Tongue but also as an International Language. If we don’t admiration Bangla as an international language then why expect such from others.