Over the past years, some of the accounts and news stories involving language attrition (for examples the ones you can find here) have led to media attention. Here is a collection of links to radio interviews and news articles in various languages:
- 03.04.2018: The Guardian re-published a piece I wrote about language attrition and its consequences for people wanting to return to the job market in their country of origin (and what to do so you don’t mess up in the interview because of attrition).
I’d like to share a rather funny little anecdote about this with you: one of the comments which were posted in response to the Guardian piece said: “This whole article is utter nonsense.” Quite a few people took exception to this comment, saying they recognised themselves in it. So the person clarified, saying (among other things) that, while he “never ever” speaks English, “I have 100% confidence in writing English […] my English is perfect.” Somehow the name rang a bell, and when I went back through my files I found a screenshot I had taken of a comment from the same reader, posted a couple of months earlier in response to an article about bilingualism, in which he said:
(it all goes to show that one should never trust self-assessments about language attrition…)
On the back of this, I appeared on Newstalk Irish Radio, to talk about forgetting languages, in particular the Irish language among people who don’t use it any more after they leave school.
- 11.01.2018: Yaldaz Sadakova gives a very moving account of what it was like to grow up in Bulgaria as a member of the Turkish minority, and being shamed for that – and now living in Canada and being shamed by Turks for having forgotten her Turkish!
- 18.12.2017: Aamna Mohdin published an article on losing childhood languages. We had often spoken in the months preceding the publication, and I was thrilled with the result!
- 11.10.2017: I had several long conversations with Sushma Subramanian about her childhood Tamil and her efforts to re-learn it. Based on these, and other research about bilingualism, she wrote a interesting story fo Discover Magazine.
- the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel published an account of language attrition, based largely on my work (18.12.2015). An interesting little factoid is that the short blurb in the table of contents was supposed to say ‘how the second language interferes with the native language’, but in the final editing process someone saw this, thought it must clearly be a mistake and changed it (without checking!) to ‘how the native language interferes with second language acquisition’. So much for general perceptions of the likeliehood of language attrition!
The interview was accompanied by a podcast in which I talk some more about these matters (also in German).
- An article based on an interview with myself and Dr. Aneta Pavlenko (Temple University) appeared on the BBC website, following the release of POW Bowe Bergdahl and his father’s statement that, after five years’ Taliban captivity, he had ‘trouble’ speaking English (04.06.2014).
- An analysis about the Bergdahl case in relation to language attrition was published on the website The Conversation (05.06.2014)
- The BBC published a dossier of statements from people who had lost fluency in their native language, following on the Bergdahl story (14.07.2014).
- An opinion piece about the use of language analysis for the determination of origin (LADO), co-authored with Prof. Peter Patrick of the University of Essex, appeared on The Conversation website (12.03.2015), and an article about this practice in the online magazine Quartz is heavily based on our work and our views.
- There have also been a number of newspaper and radio inverviews about the LADO practice. Two of them are in German, on Deutschlandradio Kultur (12.02.2015) and DRadio Wissen (25.09.2015), one appeared in the Norwegian paper NRK (28.09.2014)