Friday, November 21, 2014

Adoptees might not remember how to speak their first language, but the linguistic sounds from when they were very younger may still be embedded in the brain.

My friend, D-R, sent me an article entitled Lost’ first languages leave permanent mark on the brain.  I am living proof of that discovery. You can read it here if you are interested. All they had to do is call me to know what they have discovered.

Some of the biggest "ah ha" moments in my play Knock Knock that is now my screenplay called Uncle Gus' Monkey are about my inexplicable affinity for French and passion for things French—the language that was my first language and the language in which I was immersed for the first six months of my life.

This article is a wonderful read for me. I am so grateful for the Internet and D-R's initiative to send it to me because this phantom language and passion for it has been a major influence in my life.  It has always amazed me that I can be, here in Vancouver, in a room full of Anglophones talking and if there is one person speaking French, I hear it as clear as a siren through all the aural clutter.

It is so incredibly fulfilling to read things like this:
“Lost” first languages leave a permanent mark on the brain, a report this week has found. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in the US, challenges the existing understanding that exposure to a language in the first year of a child’s life can be “erased” if he or she is moved to a different linguistic environment.
And this:
In addition to challenging existing understandings of the impact early languages have on the brain, Kate Watkins, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Oxford, said it had interesting implications for those who may choose to “relearn” their first languages. 
“It would suggest that someone who had this very short exposure would have an advantage if they wanted to learn this language again. If your brain is wired up to detect these [sound] categories you are probably going to have an easier time learning the language.”
Duh. Again … all they had to do was call. I could have told them about going to France at age 24 with not a single minute of French language instruction and becoming fluent in 3 months and possessed of a better-than-average accent.

What a terrific read this was for me. I feel fabulous today.

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