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Can Bowe Bergdahl really have forgotten how to speak English?
The Conversation ^ | June 6, 2014 | Monika Schmid

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 Bergdahl’s 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.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: bergdahl; english; obama; taliban
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1 posted on 06/05/2014 4:43:02 AM PDT by don-o
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To: don-o
NO...........He wasn't 2 when he joined the enemy.

Bet he already has a rug and is being served a Halal menu.

2 posted on 06/05/2014 4:49:44 AM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: don-o

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.


3 posted on 06/05/2014 4:51:23 AM PDT by mason-dixon (As Mason said to Dixon, you have to draw the line somewhere.)
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To: don-o
Not being fluent in another language (unless you accept profanity as a language ... )I can only surmise that one translates subconsciously the 'new' language using the old.

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.

4 posted on 06/05/2014 4:52:17 AM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: don-o

Maybe he chose to forget English because it’s the language of those evil Christians and Jews that he hates so much.


5 posted on 06/05/2014 4:53:00 AM PDT by I want the USA back (Media: completely irresponsible. Complicit in the destruction of this country.)
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To: don-o

Did John McCain?


6 posted on 06/05/2014 4:53:04 AM PDT by muir_redwoods (When I first read it, " Atlas Shrugged" was fiction)
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To: don-o

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”.


7 posted on 06/05/2014 4:53:21 AM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: don-o
I'm not buying any of it......Furthermore, I firmly believe the old man has been in contact with the kid since he first deserted and that he learned how to speak pashwhatever so he could communicate anonymously with the Taliban via the internet......

And I'd be naive to believe both the CIA and NSA were unaware of his activities........

8 posted on 06/05/2014 4:54:02 AM PDT by Hot Tabasco (By now, everyone should know that you shoot a zombie in the head. Don't try to reason with them...)
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To: knarf

What language does he think in?


9 posted on 06/05/2014 4:54:27 AM PDT by Paladin2
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To: mason-dixon
there were back-channel communications by the father to instigate this exchange.

That's certainly been my belief.......

10 posted on 06/05/2014 4:55:34 AM PDT by Hot Tabasco (By now, everyone should know that you shoot a zombie in the head. Don't try to reason with them...)
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To: don-o

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.


11 posted on 06/05/2014 4:55:57 AM PDT by Arm_Bears (Shoot cops that shoot dogs.)
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To: don-o

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.


12 posted on 06/05/2014 4:56:53 AM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin.)
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To: don-o
What a freaking joke.....the answer is NO FREAKING WAY!!! And HOW did the father KNOW he "couldn't" speak English since he said he hasn't talked to him??

These Democrats think we are SO DAMNED STUPID!

13 posted on 06/05/2014 4:57:32 AM PDT by Ann Archy (Abortion.....the Human Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
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To: don-o

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.


14 posted on 06/05/2014 4:57:47 AM PDT by Wage Slave
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To: Wage Slave

That is very interesting. The brain is so complicated. Really an amazing work of God


15 posted on 06/05/2014 5:03:03 AM PDT by RummyChick
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To: Paladin2
That was my point

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

16 posted on 06/05/2014 5:05:06 AM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: knarf

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.


17 posted on 06/05/2014 5:05:37 AM PDT by G Larry (Which of Obama's policies do you think I'd support if he were white?)
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To: don-o; All

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.


18 posted on 06/05/2014 5:07:19 AM PDT by mazda77
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To: Wage Slave

I believe you.


19 posted on 06/05/2014 5:07:31 AM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: don-o

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.


20 posted on 06/05/2014 5:09:07 AM PDT by mware
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To: knarf

It’s impossible for him to forget English. And he spoke it just fine on propaganda tapes released not too long ago.


21 posted on 06/05/2014 5:10:04 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: G Larry

Bingo. He’s ‘playing possum.’
Real brave of him, huh?


22 posted on 06/05/2014 5:10:13 AM PDT by tumblindice (America's founding fathers: all armed conservatives)
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To: Wage Slave

If he had forgotten his Native tongue, then he would have forgotten his entire life, including his own name and the existence of his parents.

If he’s claiming he can’t communicate in English then he is the biggest liar since Obama.


23 posted on 06/05/2014 5:10:39 AM PDT by P-Marlowe (There can be no Victory without a fight and no battle without wounds)
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To: don-o

He forgot how to speak english like he forgot how to walk!


24 posted on 06/05/2014 5:12:12 AM PDT by maxwellsmart_agent
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To: don-o

Maybe they can teach it to him again at Levenworth.


25 posted on 06/05/2014 5:15:49 AM PDT by boycott
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To: don-o

1. Maybe the “difficulty” simply means a hatred for the USA and, hence, the USA’s principal language. “I hate the USA so much, HMPF, I just ‘have difficulty’ forcing myself to speak American.”

2. (If and only if he is guilty of desertion or worse,) I wonder if the treatment for his “difficulty” just might be a West Texas Ass Kicking.


26 posted on 06/05/2014 5:26:48 AM PDT by pogo101
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To: don-o

I tend to believe that to fully understand how he “forgot” his native tongue, you would actually need to speak to his publicity agent and/or manager.


27 posted on 06/05/2014 5:27:24 AM PDT by jaydee770
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To: don-o

I call bravo sierra on this claim. I spoke primarily German when I started 1st grade. I can still speak German to the point of communication after speaking English for the past 55+ years.

There are a lot of people in our church who still speak German on a regular basis, even though they have spoken English most of their life. I think he is using this as a crutch.


28 posted on 06/05/2014 5:34:57 AM PDT by Arrowhead1952 (The Second Amendment is NOT about the right to hunt. It IS a right to shoot tyrants.)
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To: don-o

Berfdahl is not speaking English AND likely denying his father is his father. This may be why the father has made a point to say “I am your father”.

Berdahl checked out on America five years ago.


29 posted on 06/05/2014 5:35:22 AM PDT by Fitzy_888 ("ownership society")
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To: don-o

My personal experience with learning conversational French via Berlitz some 40 years ago is:

I never was very good at French.

I can still come up with the phases to Shop, Eat, Drink, Travel. Which is about all I ever could do.

I have not lost my abilities to converse - even though I haven’t used the language in 30 years.

My experience would suggest Bowe’s comments re: English are BS.


30 posted on 06/05/2014 5:37:00 AM PDT by TNoldman (AN AMERICAN FOR A MUSLIM/BHO FREE AMERICA.)
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To: Sacajaweau

NO...........He wasn’t 2 when he joined the enemy.
Bet he already has a rug and is being served a Halal menu.


Exactly.

People should read the stories of children taken by indians in the old American west. Any claim that he has forgotten english is patently absurd unless he has down syndrome. And I do not believe that is the case.


31 posted on 06/05/2014 5:39:07 AM PDT by cuban leaf
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To: don-o
Maybe the Bergdahls and Sammy Sosa have the same adviser. Remember when Sosa forgot how to speak English when called to testify to Congress on steroids
32 posted on 06/05/2014 5:39:29 AM PDT by gusty (9)
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To: knarf

(My wife is half Filapina. I hope that you are also enjoying some amazing adobo and pansit! :) )


33 posted on 06/05/2014 5:41:12 AM PDT by LittleBillyInfidel (This tagline has been formatted to fit the screen. Some content has been edited.)
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To: mason-dixon
re:
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.-mason-dixon

Having difficulty speaking his native language does not mean he forgot it.

Given the context of the Bergdahl situation, as described above by mason-dixon, perhaps the difficulty in speaking his native tongue is self imposed to protect those he has been involved with - i.e.


34 posted on 06/05/2014 5:44:01 AM PDT by wtd
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To: Sacajaweau

Has Barry forgotten how to speak in bahasa lisan?


35 posted on 06/05/2014 5:45:07 AM PDT by COUNTrecount (There's no there there.)
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To: All

I expect that he is being debriefed as to what to say in public as to not embarrass dear leader.


36 posted on 06/05/2014 5:47:26 AM PDT by newnhdad (Our new motto: USA, it was fun while it lasted.)
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To: Ann Archy

Daddy just wanted to spit in the face of America on worldwide TV. Let them both move to Pakeeestan if it is so great.

Pray America wakes up


37 posted on 06/05/2014 5:49:35 AM PDT by bray (Palin 2016)
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To: knarf

If you speak a new language long enough, you will start thinking in that language and eventually even dream in the new language.


38 posted on 06/05/2014 5:50:38 AM PDT by dangerdoc
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To: wideawake

and especially lumpia !!


39 posted on 06/05/2014 5:51:00 AM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: don-o
His crazy old man just said that to give himself an excuse to show off his fluent Pashto.
40 posted on 06/05/2014 5:51:05 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum ("The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government." --Tacitus)
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To: don-o

Not speaking English makes it harder to interrogate him. Hmmm ...


41 posted on 06/05/2014 5:52:10 AM PDT by Malone LaVeigh
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To: dangerdoc
The link to English ... imo and based on every reply here indicates ... is not gone, forgotten or disappeared.

Bonus question;

If you dream in Bushwah (that's what it sounds like to me .. ) is it in color bushwah or black and white bushwah ?

42 posted on 06/05/2014 5:56:35 AM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: don-o

Bergdahl forgot English.

Right. So when he starts raving “God Damn America! I hate America!” all the Democrats can say, “No, no, he just forgot the words “bless” and “love”! And all the pMSNBC, CNN and other liars will say, “Ahhh, of course that must be it!”


43 posted on 06/05/2014 5:57:30 AM PDT by workerbee (`)
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To: G Larry

My wife speaks Czech (native) and German as well as English.

She still speaks her native Czech but is prone to using a lot of American words that both she and her sister understand. Her German at the time I met her was accented, but flawless in other respects. This is the language that gives her the most trouble now, through nonuse.

But now after so many years here, she thinks in English.


44 posted on 06/05/2014 6:01:09 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: knarf

I don’t know, I never went more than a few weeks without speaking English so I never really had a chance to lose fluency.


45 posted on 06/05/2014 6:01:12 AM PDT by dangerdoc
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To: knarf

I used to work with a lot of Filipinos. Loved when we had potlucks! Lumpia is one of my favorites and one guy made superb Flan.


46 posted on 06/05/2014 6:27:55 AM PDT by Seattle Conservative (God Bless and protect our troops)
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To: don-o

Something I thought I heard on FNC this a.m. (have it on in the background while I’m on computer) is that the video that was made of him last Dec (IIRC) when he was supposedly “on his death bed” was that he was speaking in English. If I heard correctly and that’s the case, then it doesn’t seem he forgot English over the course of 5 years, but rather 6 months. This was the video that the Senate saw in a closed-door session yesterday.


47 posted on 06/05/2014 6:31:19 AM PDT by Seattle Conservative (God Bless and protect our troops)
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To: bray

“Daddy just wanted to spit in the face of America on worldwide TV. Let them both move to Pakeeestan if it is so great.”

Hi bray,
One thing that hit me when I saw the video of ‘daddy” last night that I hadn’t noticed previously (guess I was focused on what he was saying and his beard), is that he was doing his spewing behind the PRESIDENTIAL SEAL OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. That made me really upset and ticked off at the same time.

Best,
SC

p.s. Hope your great book is doing well! :-)


48 posted on 06/05/2014 6:38:55 AM PDT by Seattle Conservative (God Bless and protect our troops)
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To: don-o
Someone who spoke English from birth to age 23 could not forget English unless he made a profound effort to do so.

Even if an adult was “forced” to never speak English for 5 years, he could only out of his own warped choice & will stop thinking and remembering in English.

So the only question to be ask is why did Bergdahl choose to forget English.

49 posted on 06/05/2014 6:43:40 AM PDT by drpix
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To: mason-dixon

I presumed all along that something like this was happening.


50 posted on 06/05/2014 6:45:13 AM PDT by Resettozero
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