Mother tongue is a common expression that is also often presented as popular language, mother tongue, native language or first language. It defines, as is clear from the meaning of the two words that form it, the first language that an individual manages to master or, in other words, the tongue that is spoken in a determined nation with respect to the natives of her, as the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE).
The mother tongue is, in short, the one that is better known and understood, in terms of the subjective assessment that the person makes regarding the languages they master. It is also about that language that is acquired naturally through interaction with the immediate environment, without> pedagogical interventions and without a consciously developed linguistic reflection.
More than one mother tongue
It should be noted that there are areas in the world in which a subject can have more than one mother tongue. That would be the case, for example, of someone from the Basque Country who learns to speak, from birth, Basque Y Spanish.
The fact that in a given country or region its inhabitants speak and master two languages at the same level is what is known, in some cases, as bilingualism. This happens, as we have mentioned before, in the Basque Country but it also happens in Galicia, Catalonia or Valencia.
Outside of Spain there are also cases in which its citizens have two mother tongues and it usually occurs in areas characterized by precisely having two languages as official. Among them we can highlight enclaves of world geography such as Canada or Paraguay.
The language within the family
In general, the mother tongue is known and incorporated from within the family. The ability in the mother tongue is essential for the later learning since it constitutes the base of the thought. On the other hand, a partial command of the mother tongue hinders the process of assimilation of other languages.
According to the theories of Noam chomsky and from other linguists, the mother tongue can be learned up to about twelve years of age. Once this period is over, the linguistic capacities of each person are different and every incorporated language becomes a second language.
It is interesting to mention that the International Mother Language Day is celebrated every February 21st.
The film «Mother tongue»
In addition to all this, we can establish that the term we are referring to is the one that gives the title to a film that reached the big screen in 2010, Mother tongue. A drama is this film production of Argentine origin that is directed by Liliana Paolinelli and starring interpreters of the stature of Claudia Lapacó, Virginia Innocenti and Mara Santucho.
The story told in this film is that of a woman who suddenly discovers that her forty-year-old daughter is a lesbian. This fact will make the mother try to understand said daughter and for this she enters to discover a world that until that moment was completely unknown to her. But that interest in understanding will be seen by the girl as a real intrusion into her privacy.
This circumstance will lead to both characters establishing a difficult and problematic relationship whose end point will be understanding and acceptance.