miconazole (miconazole) wrote in linguaphiles,
miconazole
miconazole
linguaphiles

Losing languages

Background information: I'm 18, Chinese, and living in Australia. It just occurred to me today that after I leave home, I'll probably forget my Chinese. I'm not particularly happy about this. I'm functionally illiterate and only speak it at home, so my vocabulary is pretty limited. All the same, it's my native language and, besides English, the only language I can think in.

My parents are pretty much my only exposure to the language. I'm not much interested in Chinese books or movies and when I'm with Chinese friends we speak English. Since we always spoke Chinese at home, I managed to hold on to the language when most other Chinese kids we knew slowly forgot it. But I figure that once I move out I'll just be speaking English all the time. Now I have this mental scenario where I wake up one day at 40 and realise I can't speak the language anymore. Not being able to read cuts off a lot of options/resources. I tried teaching myself for a while but found that without regularly encountering whatever words I'd learned (i.e. by reading Chinese crap all the time) I'd just forget them again in a matter of days.

So, comm, have YOU lost a childhood language, or some other language you spoke well? Or have you managed to avoid this somehow, and how? For those of you who know an insane number of languages - what's it like trying to keep up in all of them? Do you even try, or do you just let them languish and think, "Hell, if I ever need it, I'll pick it up again easily"? Any and all stories relating to language loss are welcome here :)
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