Mother Tongue, First Language, Second Language, Accent, importance of Mother Tongue, Benefits of Learning Second Language

Why do I speak English



Personally, I'd prefer to speak my mother tongue at every moment, I miss my mother tongue, especially because I'm far away from home. There's nothing more pleasurable than hearing people speaking in their mother tongue. I guess, for some people, who are not in their country of origin and always travelling. There's just something about being in the land of your people. A sense of peace and belonging. We have made speaking English a symbol of modernity while it's really a language of global trade. It is convenient. But your identity will always reveal itself in your speech.


The relationship between native language, "mother tongue, "mother language" and “foreign language”. Is it the same thing or a preference to use loan words. The word for “language” is the equivalent of “tongue” in many languages. In Latin, the word for “tongue” is lingua, which became language in Old French, then borrowed into English (in modern French it's langue).


Your mother and her tongue are specific to an area and highly specialized organisms which go extinct when conditions are disturbed. We are leaving tribes and nations behind, should their languages die so that their survivors might enjoy a life with fewer barriers, language being one?


Does first language mean mother tongue?

A native tongue, native language, mother tongue or L1 is the first language or dialect that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period, whilst Primary language is the language that someone uses most frequently to communicate with. For many people, their primary language is their first language, but for others, their primary language might be their second language. 


Take a look at these definitions to help you understand the difference between Primary Language, First Language and Second Language:

Primary Language as defined above.

First Language is the language a person learns when they are born, it’s sometimes known as their ‘mother tongue’. Think about it as the language your parents/guardian taught you. Is this the same language you speak in everyday life? “If so, your first language is also your primary language.” 

Second Language is the language learnt that is not the one they were taught at birth. Imagine having moved to another country, and learned the language spoken there. That would be your second language. If you spoke this language in everyday life, this language would be your primary language. 

“Lots of people all over the world use their second language as their primary language.” 


The Importance of Learning additional Languages to your Primary Language 

“Having the ability to speak more than one language makes it easier to communicate with other people from different countries easier, it also helps to increase your connection to other cultures. Learning another language in addition to your primary language would be your second language.” This vastly improves one's memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. It also gives you the opportunity to enhance your concentration, ability to multitask, and listening skills. Having the ability to speak more than one language makes it easier to communicate with other people from different countries easier, it also helps to increase your connection to other cultures.


A case for accents 

“While I was researching, I found an interesting discussion online, I’ll just like to rephrase points that were made.” I don't think you will find many linguists who agree that an accent is "some deviation from a perceived norm". “That would imply that people whose speech is close to that norm have no accent.” Accent not being a linguistic concept (it's a popular one) I wouldn't expect linguists to agree. That's why non-linguists say things like "he speaks without an accent", and why linguists talk of dialects. The linguist would say that "accent" is just another term for "phonological idiolect" (though some people include local lexical items like pop and soda in "accent"). “That is, the way somebody sounds that one remarks as different from one's own (naturally accent-free) pronunciation.” This is true for everybody; they all speak the correct, standard way, and hear any recognizable difference as "having an accent".

The question is whether the "accent" identifies the speaker as being out-group/in-group with regard to some important social group.


I'm wondering what the differences &/or similarities between native language, first language, mother tongue and L1 are. The first three, I find, are often used interchangeably in casual conversation. In academic linguistics though, are there generally accepted differences between these terms.

Also, where does that leave L1? I believe it's an academic term, but I often see it defined relative to the other three casual terms…in context of your geolocation.

A quick Google search seems to reveal there is a lot of confusion around these terms, and possibly no straightforward answer. It also doesn't help that the Wikipedia article groups the four terms into one article and has fewer citations than I would like. 

“The only thing I've been able to gather is that the tendency seems to be for "native language" to mean proficient and for "first language" to mean chronologically first.” 


In particular, I'd like to find out what term/terms are applicable to the following scenarios:

  1. A chronologically first language with which the speaker is no longer fluent or even competent.
  2. A language learned to fluency in adulthood (with or without a foreign accent - though I realize the latter is rare).
  3. A language learned to fluency in childhood (within the critical period) that is not chronologically first. 


“I realize fluency might not be the best word to use. But the words I would” normally use are the ones that I'm seeking clearer definitions for!

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