… among refugees?


A very important factor in learning, losing or maintaining any language is how we feel about it. If you want to learn a new language, find yourself someone whose native language it is and fall in love with them – that is the most efficient way.

Of course, it also works the other way around – for how many people has a foreign language been permanently spoiled because of a horrid teacher?

A positive attitude towards a language and culture can similarly help with its maintenance, and a negative one can cause and speed up attrition. This was most evident in a study of German-Jewish refugees, where a clear link emerged between the amount of Nazi persecution individual speakers had suffered and the amount of loss they had had of their first language.

Refugees often have very traumatic experiences which they associate with their first language, and which leads them to suppress and abandon this language. This, in turn, may lead to stronger attrition effects than would otherwise be the case.