It is not surprising that our native language is often referred to as our "mother tongue" a terms that recalls our earliest memories and influences. The term itself has different meanings. The sociolinguist Tove Skutnabb Kangas (1981) hypothesizes five definitions of "mother tongue" depending on who is defining it. For the sociologist, mother tongue is the language one learns first. For the linguist, it is the language one knows best. For the sociolinguist it is the language one uses the most. For the social psychologist, it is the language one identifies with and through which one is identified. For the lay person, it is "the language one counts in thinks in, dreams in, writes a diary in, and writes poetry in" (Skutnabb- Kangas, 1981: 18).
Skutnabb- Kangas' social psychological definition of mother tongue brings out the importance of language as part of one's cultural identity. The mother tongue is the langue through which in the process of socialization one has required the norms and value systems of one's own group. The language passes on the cultural tradition of the group and there by gives the individual an identity which ties her to the in-group and at the same time sets her apart from other possible groups of reference.. ...Show more