Language attrition: Where are we and where are we going?

Keijzer, M., Jun-2015.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

The world is increasingly becoming a global village: large-scale international mobility has caused many people to reside in an environment where their mother tongue is not spoken, and where they subsequently have to acquire a new language. Over the past 40 years researchers have looked at the question what breaking with your first language environment and becoming immersed in a second language environment does to your mother tongue. Language attrition, as this non-pathological language erosion has been labeled, is now understood not to affect all language domains as fast or as severely (grammar is much more resilient to attrition than the lexicon, for instance). What we also know is that not all individuals are equally affected by attrition: while some individuals show great losses, the speech of others remains virtually untouched. Obvious variables such as how long someone has lived abroad or how much they continue to speak their mother tongue do not clearly predict the individual differences attested. In this presentation, I would like to propose a hypothesis that explains individual attrition patterns on the basis of the premise that ‘good learners are also good forgetters’. In other words, the best second language learners are those who tolerate changes to their first language. This hypothesis will be embedded in recent theoretical work in the field of attrition and the broader realm of cognitive and language control in bilinguals.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2015
EventLanguage and speech colloquium on attrition - Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Duration: 24-Jun-201524-Jan-2016


SeminarLanguage and speech colloquium on attrition


Language and speech colloquium on attrition


Nijmegen, Netherlands

Event: Seminar

ID: 28067077