First Language Attrition and Loss in Bilinguals

Silvina Montrul

In: Encyclopedia of Language Development

First Language Attrition and Loss in Bilinguals

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  • It is often assumed that, once acquired from childhood, first or native language knowledge is stable, at least in adults, and does not go away easily in situations of reduced exposure and language disuse. However, first language development and native speaker knowledge can be profoundly shaped by the environment, and this is especially significant in bilingualism where context of use and amount of input in each language can vary. In fact, it is common for bilingual individuals to experience fluctuations in fluency and proficiency in their languages throughout their life spans, particularly if there is a significant change in the linguistic environment, as in the context of large-scale immigration.

    First language attrition is characterized as the gradual forgetting of aspects of the native language by a ...

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