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Mother tongue and identity

Still, for many of us, our mother tongue is bound up with our deeper identity, our memories and sense of self.

The article, Can you lose your native language?, is about language attrition, but my brain picks up this piece, because it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot recently.

I speak Russian to our kids, but we live in the Netherlands and recently I started to get more pressure to speak Dutch to them when other people are present.  I do – when speaking to a group that includes my kids or, occasionally, when I want to be sure that others understand what is being said. But switching into Dutch completely when in public is out of question at this point: that part of my identity, which is about being a mother, is in Russian, our relation is in Russian and my part of facilitating their learning is also in Russian. Speaking Dutch to them would turn me into somebody else 🙂

A quick search on “mother tongue” and “identity” brings a bunch of interesting things to read, but I shouldn’t now: it’s late in the night and our suitcases for Russia are not packed yet.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Ton Zijlstra June 11, 2018, 05:48

    I find this also stretches to other identity facets, like professional activities. E.g. choice of usage of English or Dutch or German is regularly tied to the topic at hand.

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