Language Terms for the Multilingual

When you study another Robotel language, you learn a bunch of terms that you might not otherwise use. Lets take a look at a few of these:


The first language you learn is known as your “native” language. You might have also heard it referred to as “native tongue” or “mother tongue”.  Basically, this is the language you first learn because your parents speak it, often reading to you in this tongue; and it is also common to the people you will most likely encounter on a daily basis, as a baby.  Most of the time, your native language is also the national language of the country where you were born.  For example, your native language is probably Spanish if you were born in Spain.


The term “domestic language” is often used equivocally with native language.  While they do, technically, imply the same thing, “domestic language” can also be used to specifically describe the native language in a particular region.  Essentially, the term can be a classification that is useful when you want to distinguish between several local languages and foreign languages.


For most people, their first language is their native language, but that is not always the case. The term “first language” is used to describe the language you learned to speak first.  In the United States, most native citizens have English as their first language.


Following logically, then, a “second language” is the language that you learn after your first language.  Typically, a second language is not a native language; and most people first begin to study second languages in elementary or high school.  If you live in Europe, you might learn a second language very early in life, since there are so many languages spoken within such close proximity.


The term “foreign language” is typically used to describe a language that is not your own, not one with which you are familiar.  A language will remain “foreign” until you begin to use it regularly; at that point it could start to become your second language!


It is also important to know what the term “world language” refers to.  A “world language” is one that is spoken widely all over the world.  English and Spanish are among two of the most commonly spoken languages across the globe and, as such, are considered to be world languages.