Can you forget your native language?

Can you lose your native language as an adult?

I’ve been fascinated by adults in Greece who can speak both Greek and English to native levels yet as they get older they stop being able to do both. This has perplexed me in the UK too with people who learnt languages fluently at a young age yet can no longer speak the language.

This isn’t just related to an average person though. If you look at Ricky Martin’s career he speaks with his native accent in Spanish and English but then he moved to the US and gets married to an American. His accent changes so drastically that he can’t even sing his own back catalogue properly anymore!

Luckily this change can be reversed as on his most recent song he is back to sounding how he used to when he was younger.

As the article above suggests it’s all to do with emotions. If you associate positive emotions with a language and a specific purpose then you are more likely to remember it. If however you try to use a language for another purpose like your native language for work purposes in an English speaking country your likely to fail. Too much mental control is required for this to occur.

Best wishes



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Athena Minerva

A place for me to write about things that concern myself and the world around me. Please check out my page on Amazon after you have finished my blog or drop me a line at

8 thoughts on “Can you forget your native language?”

    1. I know that but if you recall they changed the boundaries in the 70s so that places like Middlesbrough were no longer in Yorkshire. If I hadn’t met someone from then and there I wouldn’t know (Wikipedia tells you if you need evidence).

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yes, I suppose it is possible to forget ones native language.
    I never forgot my mother tongue completely but noticed that I mix it with other languages easily in particular if I get tired.
    I also got the feedback that my mother tongue language got a different “color” or accent for some time. But this accent was reversible as soon as my social environment changed again and I was surrounded by other languages again.

    From my experience language skills are not linked to positiv emotions only. In fact, I prefer to rant in English language. Maybe, because I prefer to rant in a foreign language because it allows myself to distance myself better from the subject of my anger…and suppose not to be understood by all of my fellow countrymen…

    I know multi-lingual people who also link their choice of a language to certain situations/ emotions…like French (cuddly mood) or Spanish (passionate mood) in their love life.

    Interestingly, I noticed that most people finally choose their native language including local dialect if they become serious…if they are authentic and want to be understood in all details clearly.

    Liked by 2 people

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