What is special about your mother tongue?

The mother tongue always remains something special

What is it actually, a mother tongue? As a German you don't necessarily have German as your mother tongue, but maybe Turkish, Russian - or Sater Frisian. According to UNESCO, the latter is one of the most endangered languages ​​in Germany. And is mother tongue something that you carry with you all your life, like a fingerprint? How big is their part in the person, in the cultural identity?

Usually one only begins to reflect on these questions when one lives in another country and speaks another language.

The fact is: mother tongue starts very early. Babies in the last trimester of pregnancy are able to recognize the mother's voice and distinguish the “mother tongue” from a foreign language. Researchers at the University of Würzburg have also found that newborns already scream in their mother tongue.

So it's no wonder that it plays a very special role in our lives.

UNESCO Mother Language Day on February 21: Wars, displacement and stigmatization can cause languages ​​to disappear forever. But the influence of large language groups such as English can also reduce the linguistic diversity. According to information from UNESCO, half of the 6,000 languages ​​spoken around the world are in danger of disappearing.

“It always remains the most important language, it's like cycling or swimming, you never forget or forget it, even if you speak another language almost as your mother tongue at some point,” inlingua language student Toni from Italy is convinced. He loves learning languages ​​and getting to know new cultures. But, like most other students, he cannot imagine that the second language will eventually gain the same importance as the mother tongue.

Language = emotions
Many of the language students speak of great emotions that their mother tongue triggers in them: "When I hear strangers speaking Chinese, I want to start a conversation straight away, I also gain confidence much faster," says Mai from China. The familiar sounds and tones ensure a warm, soft feeling in the stomach.

Even people who have a perfect command of German fall back into spontaneous speech when they are emotionally charged. Language trainer Anne from the United States slips out a “damn” instead of a “damn” when something does not go according to her wishes. The actor Eddie Constantine put it in a nutshell: "No matter how many foreign languages ​​you can speak - if you cut yourself while shaving, you are using your mother tongue."

Switch between two languages
In the dream, people who have lived abroad for a long time often mix languages ​​and it is really multicultural. Some say that they even talk to themselves, sometimes in their mother tongue, sometimes in their second language, depending on their mood. inlingua trainer Anne made another interesting observation: “My husband is German and speaks English very well. For example, when I tell him something about our son's kindergarten, it is always in German. But when I describe my mother's call from the USA, I switch to English without thinking about it so I don't have to translate. "

Language is basically a very economic matter. “Everyone wants to be understood with as little effort as possible. For example, look at the Turkish teenagers who switch from Turkish to German in the middle of a sentence. They just take the word that fits best, which they have already said a thousand times, ”says Heidrun Englert, linguist and second chairwoman of inlingua Germany.

Neighborhood German
In the long run, this creates mixed languages ​​which, by the way, are significantly better than their reputation. Linguist Heike Wiese, for example, says that so-called Kiezdeutsch - a street language that develops in the everyday life of young people of different origins - is much more logical than standard German. She fights for Kiezdeutsch to be recognized as a dialect.

Like every language, the mother tongue is also subject to permanent change - it has always been that way and it will always be that way. Innovations and additions should therefore not be seen as a threat, but as an enrichment and addition. Every fresh breeze that mixes up the language patterns, but also every old dialect, ultimately makes our world more colorful and exciting.

Society editorial
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