Native language fails?

General discussion about learning languages
golyplot
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Native language fails?

Postby golyplot » Thu Oct 29, 2020 4:34 am

I had another "tip of my tongue" instance yesterday where I was unable to think of a suitable English word for what I wanted. (I was looking for "having given up due to excessive perceived difficulty", but the best I could come up with was "dismayed" or "resigned"). It happened again today (an impersonal noun for "willingness and motivation to see through a difficult task", a bit like "will" but more formal, as in "We know it's a problem but there hasn't been the X to solve it").

It's not the first time I've been unable to summon an English word with the desired nuance, but having it happen to me twice in so many days definitely seems a bit alarming.

Has anyone else had experiences like this?

This isn't a matter of language interference, since none of my foreign languages are remotely advanced enough for that to be an issue, but I do sometimes wonder if I need to be spending more time reading in English.
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chove
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Re: Native language fails?

Postby chove » Thu Oct 29, 2020 5:01 am

Don't worry, it's normal for everyone: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tip_of_the_tongue
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Re: Native language fails?

Postby coldrainwater » Thu Oct 29, 2020 5:42 am

When heavily immersed in an L2 for years to the extent of neglect around my normal reading of literature in EN, at the very least, my return on English is noticeably different if not disappointingly worse. In short, I concur. I certainly notice a dearth and sparseness of diction, but when I return to reading English, it the resurgence of availability that hits me the hardest. It is more like I don't know what I am missing or how much has slipped until I get part of it back.

It also depends on the choice or circumstance around my regular interlocution partners. If I choose well, their use and turns of phrase can positively influence and trigger my own thoughts. In contrast, if I fall into a rut in a specific domain, rehashing the same topics, for instance, the ability can fall away and I lose precision similar to how you describe. It also may be a case that normal peak performance is not sustainable 24/7/365.
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Re: Native language fails?

Postby tarvos » Thu Oct 29, 2020 10:13 am

Happens to me in all my languages
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Re: Native language fails?

Postby Adrianslont » Thu Oct 29, 2020 10:55 am

Pretty much daily - doesn’t everybody? Please tell me you do!
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Re: Native language fails?

Postby Iversen » Thu Oct 29, 2020 5:21 pm

Of course it happens, but it is not necessarily a result of deterioration or your native language. It could simply be that you have acquired some new semantic 'boxes' from learning another language, and now your thoughts are running along pathways that weren't developed for your native language. Like me with African birds, that may not even have a name in Danish.
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Re: Native language fails?

Postby rdearman » Thu Oct 29, 2020 11:34 pm

Or you might just be getting old.
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Re: Native language fails?

Postby IronMike » Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:06 am

I lose words temporarily often, but most embarrassing was when I mispronounced some words in front of a crowd.

epitome: Back in the day, I had in my internal vocabulary two words, only one of which I'd seen spelled, and that's epitome. But I pronounced it "EP-i-tome" and it had a distinct meaning (now long forgotten) than epitome, which I pronounced "uh-PIT-oh-mee" but had never seen in writing. Or so I thought. Ugh.

awry: I knew/know this word and know it is pronounced "uh-RYE." Unfortunately, I was reading something outloud at work one day and pronounced it "AW-ree" and have not lived that down yet. And that was almost 30 years ago.
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Re: Native language fails?

Postby Le Baron » Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:27 am

I always find this strange because It's not as if I never use my native language, the need crops up fairly regularly. However, when I Skype with my brother in England and the conversation gets rapid I find myself at a loss for words sometimes.

The worst cases are when explaining something that occurred here in the Netherlands and which was all carried out in Dutch, especially if it features things and names of organisations whose translation I've never really considered. However I also forget words I probably used daily in the past, but now have no contact with. It's bizarre being reminded of words you once commonly used, but forgot about because you don't need them. It's really only persistent contact with a particular vocabulary set which keeps you using it.
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Re: Native language fails?

Postby golyplot » Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:22 am

IronMike wrote:epitome: Back in the day, I had in my internal vocabulary two words, only one of which I'd seen spelled, and that's epitome. But I pronounced it "EP-i-tome" and it had a distinct meaning (now long forgotten) than epitome, which I pronounced "uh-PIT-oh-mee" but had never seen in writing. Or so I thought. Ugh.


I also thought it was EPi-tome due to encountering the word in reading long before I heard it spoken.
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