Skip to comments.Can Bowe Bergdahl really have forgotten how to speak English?
Posted on 06/05/2014 4:43:02 AM PDT by don-o
When US soldier Bowe Bergdahl was released after being held captive by the Afghan Taliban for five years, his father said his son was having trouble speaking English. Many will find this statement incredible: is it really possible to forget your native language?
The answer depends on many factors. The first is what we mean by forgetting. Would it, for example, be possible for a mother tongue to be completely forgotten, so that a person cannot understand, or even recognise it anymore? The answer is yes, but only if she or he lost contact with that language before puberty.
Studies of international adoptees show that they very rapidly and completely forget their mother tongue, even if they are as old as eight years at the time that they are adopted. As adults, they may no longer be able to recognise the simplest words of the language they had first learned, and if they try to learn it again, they have few, if any advantages, over novice learners.
But those who are older than 12 years old when contact with their native tongue is interrupted will probably retain at least some proficiency for the rest of their lives. They will not only be able to communicate in this language and understand most of it, it will also be much easier for them to learn it again later on. They may have some problems accessing the correct words, they may become somewhat less fluent, and they may develop a foreign accent, but none of these will seriously impair their functioning in that language.
This is good news for Bergdahl and his family. Any problems that he may currently have, for example, remembering some English words, speaking with a foreign accent or making grammatical mistakes, are likely to be temporary, and to disappear quickly probably within weeks. Limited usage
What other factors, then, might have caused these problems? While held in captivity, Bergdahl probably had very little occasion to speak or hear English. But how frequently someone uses their language plays a far smaller role for the maintenance of this language than one might think. Several studies have attempted to probe this, and all have found a complete absence of any correlation between frequency of use and degree of language loss.
These findings may appear counter intuitive, but they suggest that, for adult speakers, the native language has become so deeply entrenched and so frequently rehearsed, that it will remain active in memory despite the fact that it is hardly used at all, sometimes for decades. Pashto pushing out English
On the other hand, many people will know the phenomenon that when they try to learn a new language, other languages (their native language, or other foreign languages) will keep butting in. When trying to focus on the new language, the language learner will therefore have to repress or inhibit this knowledge very strongly, and once this has been done for any length of time, it can then become harder to switch back to the language that has been so actively inhibited.
If Bergdahl made a very strong effort to learn Pashto, and if he was encouraged or even forced by his captors not to use English, that may therefore now account for some of the troubles he is having. Again, any such problems are like to be temporary and vanish within, at most, a few weeks time.
Traumatic experiences may also be a factor when it comes to forgetting or suppressing a language. In the absence of information about what happened during Bergdahls captivity, we can only speculate on this, but it does seem a strong possibility that this may have played a part. In this event, it would probably be necessary to address the trauma itself, and not the linguistic problems that it might have caused.
Bet he already has a rug and is being served a Halal menu.
Has anyone hypothesized that Bergdahl’s captors/companions allowed his father to communicate with him but only in the Pashto language? That’s the context in which the father 1) learned the language and 2) assumes that his son doesn’t speak English fluently. This also leads to the conclusion that there were back-channel communications by the father to instigate this exchange.
My wife's Filipina and I'm learning Tagalog and Cebuano (though not to be fluent) and I am speaking two languages simultaneously as I attempt to converse.
I don't see how one can 'forget' a mother tongue.
Maybe he chose to forget English because it’s the language of those evil Christians and Jews that he hates so much.
Did John McCain?
Of course not. That was only his father’s excuse for citing the jihadist victory prayer, which was his way of demonstrating to his son that he was as much a jihadist as he. That’s why he immediately afterward said, “I am your father”.
And I'd be naive to believe both the CIA and NSA were unaware of his activities........
What language does he think in?
That's certainly been my belief.......
This has blown-up rather badly in Bammy’s face, evidenced by the MSM pulling out all the stops to canonize the little puke Bergdahl.
I don’t buy it. I can accept it from a young child but not an adult.
Our thoughts are word associated and much of the modern research into electronic mind reading is based on that fact.
These Democrats think we are SO DAMNED STUPID!
As a nurse I have cared for many dementia patients whose primary language was not English. They married Americans and spent their entire lives here speaking only English.
At the end stage of dementia every one of them had forgotten English and were able to speak only their native language.
Bergdahl is a liar.
That is very interesting. The brain is so complicated. Really an amazing work of God
When I say "Salamat" ... my brain is saying "Thank You" at the same time
As I formulate a baby sentence (the best I can do at the moment), I am formulating in English first before translating (in my brain) the second language.
When I say "Mahal Kita", I am very conscious of my brain saying in English, "I Love You"
I don't see how a mother tongue gets "lost" or "forgotten"
I'd like to hear from bi-lingual people here on this
Actually, you can learn to think in another language, but it isn’t credible that an adult would forget their native tongue.
This is simply a ploy to avoid responding to the media and the courts.
That question is a non-starter. My mother was born in Bavaria in 1932. She married my father (US forces) in Oberamagau in 1948. She left Germany in 1950 to live with my dad’s family in the States when my dad was sent off to Korea. We went back in 1957 to Stuttgart and lived on base. We came back to the states in 1960. She never went back until 1983 for a two week visit and one more time shortly after the fall of the Wall for another two week visit.
She refused to let her children be raised speaking German because of the negative connotations she feared we would be subject to. English was always spoken in our house, unless our parents wanted to talk about something they didn’t want us to know.
Today, she is still very fluent in her native language and this pile of HORSESHIT infuriates me to no end. It was just an excuse setup by the Regime to have the White House consecrated to Islam without the pResident doing it himself.
I believe you.
Not sure if he forgot how to speak English, but he wrote a note in English to the guy who came and got him, asking if they were really Americans.
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