How does our first language influence learning new ones? What gets moved over from the old languages to the new? This week on The Ling Space, we talk about transfer in second language acquisition: how we know that the foundation of our new language is the one we knew already, and what the effects are of having that old language knowledge around.

L2 acquisition is my favorite of all linguistics topics, so I’m very excited to hear what everyone has to say about it!

INSIDE SCOOP – there is such a nerdy visual pun in this episode, omg!! I dare anyone to find it ^_^ 

Magic linguistics



If you have a native language with a very complex phonology, and you take polyjuice potion and switch bodies with someone with a native language with a very simple phonology, what would then happen with the speech?

If most information lies in an abstract system in the brain there would be no…

Wow, this is a fascinating question! I wonder if anyone has looked into it. I’d be inclined to say that knowing how you should do something is definitely important, but that the muscle memory matters, so you would still end up with an accent. But there’s room for debate on this one!

Well, as someone with two native languages who fell out of the habit of speaking one of them for about a decade before coming back to using it regularly, I can attest that muscle memory definitely lags a bit when you’re out of practice, but then comes back. SO, my guess is, at first you’d have trouble making the sounds – you might stumble a little, as your articulators struggle to catch up with your mind – but with practice, you could probably train your speech up to par pretty quick. 

Just hide in a room talking to yourself for an hour and you’re good to go!

Magic linguistics