Experimentally proved you will not forget native language

Experimentally proved you will not forget native language

The results of linguistic research, published in Royal Society Open Science showed that children learn the phonetic system of the native language before learning to speak.

An international group of linguists from the University Radboud and the max Planck Institute proved experimentally that the speed of assimilation to the phonetic rules of Korean language media, completely lost the skill of communicating in their native language, much higher than in the control group of Dutch people who didn’t study this language before the experiment.

The ability to pronounce individual words appears in person in 11-12 months. With age, the mechanism of pronouncing the words becomes so familiar that the transition to a phonetic system of another language becomes very labor-intensive. In the speech in the target language people reflexively straying, using the characteristic of the native language phonetic patterns.

For example, in Maori no sound [W], for which the native speakers in the English word sheep, the first consonant is usually pronounced as [x]. Due to the same mechanism, English, learning Russian language, is extremely difficult given the correct use of words in speech, where it is necessary to clearly articulate the distinction between the consonant softness and hardness, e.g. “dust—pil”.

Children adopted at an early age to another language community, forget the language in which to communicate with them at birth, but as it turned out, retain some of the skills that help them in re-learning the native language. In particular, learn the rules of pronunciation of the language is noticeably faster than the other students.

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Participants in this study were 29 heterosexual Koreans in age from 23 to 41 years, adopted by Dutch families at the age from 3 to 70 months who consider Dutch as their native language. Fourteen of them were transported to the Netherlands before the age of 6 months, and 15 — at the age of 17 months. The control group consisted of 29 native speakers of Dutch of the opposite sex from 19 to 47 years old, not studied Korean before.

All participants underwent the same training course of phonetics of the Korean language. Tests on the pronunciation of Korean alveolar, labiodental and valerych-labial consonants, absent in the Dutch language, was conducted at the beginning and at the end of the training session. Pronunciation was assessed 30 native Korean speakers during the blind auditions.

As shown in the illustration, the results shown by the group of adopted Koreans was significantly higher than the control group of the Dutch.

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They also found that the speed of mastering the pronunciation of the Koreans, who started to speak their native language, but lost this skill, same as the Koreans, who had no previous experience of speaking in Korean. This confirms that the ability to distinguish phonemes, rhythm and intonation characteristic of native language, the child receives regardless of the verbal experience.

The first year of life — the active period of language development. For a long time it was believed that children acquire the phonemic inventory of the language on the basis of imitation of speech of adults in about one year of age. Recent studies have shown that the perception of language occurs long before a child utters the first word. So, two simultaneous linguistic research 2016 showed that the type of language spoken by the mother of the baby, affects the acoustic properties of crying from the first minute after birth.

Elizaveta Vlasova