The Parish Hall > Family Life

Downside of being fluent in multiple languages from young age.

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Philip G.:
I have a friend who was telling me that her niece I think, who is like 2 years old, is being taught english and spanish.  And, it got me thinking, is there a negative to being taught multiple languages before one reaches the age of reason?  Because, you would think in our multicultural society, it would only be a good thing, and it may be.  But, is there a downside to not having a first language?  Is it even possible to not have a first language?  You would think someone who is fluent in both spanish and english upon reaching the age of reason might be considered to not have a first language.  But, I doubt it.  I think one must have a first language.  If it is possible to not have a first language, but instead two, what do you think the downside(s) are?  How do you think it manifests itself?

Heinrich:
There are hordes of Mexican kids who don't talk the Spanish nor the English very good since they border hop. Dat not good.

Philip G.:
One downside that I can think of for a person who is fluent from a young age in many languages is that they may not have an accent.  And, I love accents!  And, I think that most people like accents.  I don't think we live in a world that wished accents did not exist.  So, what does an accent imply?  I think an accent either implies a first language, or a dominant language.  So, the next question is, can one who grew up speaking english, but is for whatever reason uprooted and placed in a spanish speaking society, where they learn spanish, and have to speak it daily as the main language, lose their english accent and english dominance?  Meaning, spanish becomes the dominant language for them, and they lose something of their english as a result of lack of use?  It seems reasonable that it could happen. However, I don't think it happens.  Because, I do not know of people who have strong accents, losing their accent over time.  And, the accent implies it seems the dominance of the first language.  Perhaps that is why accents are so likeable/loveable.  An accent implies roots and human nature that cannot be subjected entirely to nurture.  Because, humans are nature and nurture, not one or the other. 

drummerboy:
2 years old is very young, I've always thought it was 4-5 at the youngest to start, or that's when the instruction books start at least.

red solo cup:
" A man who speaks two languages has two souls "

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