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Can you read too much in a foreign language?

asked 2015-03-19 12:55:50 -0500

anonymous user



I am bilingual, and am wondering if can be dangerous in some way to your grip of one language, if you read and is exposed too much to the other. I like and prefer to read in the one language, but material and books that I am interested in tend to be more widely available in the other. Could it be harmful to my use of the first, reading too much of the second?

Yours, Axel

Axel Ekstrom

(Transferred from old LINGUIST List Ask-a-Linguist site)

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answered 2015-03-20 07:47:43 -0500

anon1 gravatar image

updated 2015-03-21 03:44:21 -0500

Multilinguals typically use each of their languages for different purposes – or they wouldn’t need different languages. Reading (mostly) in one language won’t affect any of your skills in another, because multilingualism is not subtractive: using one language (more) doesn’t entail less command of another.

Aside from clinical conditions, what does cause language loss is lack of practice, in the exact same sense that you lose body abilities because of lack of physical training.

So if you keep your languages well oiled, you needn’t worry about loss of linguistic skills in any of them on account of your multilingualism.

Madalena Cruz-Ferreira

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Asked: 2015-03-19 12:55:50 -0500

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Last updated: Mar 21 '15