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father tongue (plural father tongues)

  1. A separate language for expressing ideas, as opposed to the vernacular (mother tongue) which is employed for everyday common speech.
    • 2009, Françoise Kral, Critical Identities in Contemporary Anglophone Diasporic Literature, →ISBN, page 142:
      This also implies that the initial dichotomy - the mother tongue as the language of affect as opposed to the father tongue, as the language of cognitive development -- needs to be questioned and redefined in the context of diasporic experience, maybe as the language one lives in as opposed to the language one works in.
    • 2011, Wendy Doniger, The Implied Spider, →ISBN, page 144:
      Ramanujan has also argued that many Hindu men have both a mother tongue (the everyday language, such as Tamil, spoken by women downstairs, in the back, in the kitchen) and a father tongue (once Sanskrit, more recently English, the literary lingua franca spoken—or at least discussed—by men in the front rooms).
    • 2012, Máiréad Nic Craith, Narratives of Place, Belonging and Language, →ISBN:
      In the early Middle Ages, 'mother tongue' was largely 'a pejorative term to describe the unlearned language of women and children' (Haugen 1991: 82). This reflected the low status of women in society and contrasted with Latin, the more prestigious 'father tongue' on the continent.
    • 2013, Revd Canon Leslie J Francis & ‎Revd Jeff Astley, Exploring Ordinary Theology: Everyday Christian Believing and the Church, →ISBN:
      Ironically, it may be argued that in appointing a particular sophisticated form of the vernacular for such use, Dante was, in effect, creating another 'father tongue'.
  2. The form of language that is acquired through education and books, as opposed to the dialect one grows up speaking; formal or educated language.
    • 1854, Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or Life in the Woods:
      The other is the maturity and experience of that; if that is our mother tongue, this is our father tongue, a reserved and select expression, too significant to be heard by the ear, which we must be born again in order to speak.
    • 1988, Laura Kendrick, Chaucerian Play: Comedy and Control in the Canterbury Tales, →ISBN:
      In the late medieval period, the rules of proper speech, which I call the "father" tongue, forbade the outright naming of sexual parts or open discussion of lower bodily functions such as sexual intercourse or excretion.
    • 1992, Gail B. Griffin, Calling : essays on teaching in the mother tongue, page 169:
      We learn the father tongue to prove we have outgrown the mother tongue.
    • 2008, Natalie K. Watson & ‎Stephen Burns, Exchanges of Grace: Essays in Honour of Ann Loades, →ISBN, page 202:
      On the other hand, there is the 'father tongue', which is native to no one: an 'excellent dialect', 'immensely noble and indispensably useful', that we have to go to college to learn fully.
    • 2017, Andrew Norris, Becoming Who We Are, →ISBN:
      In each case, we are reborn -- a fact that explains Thoreau's preference here for the father tongue over the mother tongue, as Cavell explains: "A son of man is born of woman; but rebirth, according to our Bible, is the business of the father." The rebirth of Walden will involve baptism in the waters of Walden Pond, and, by extension, in Walden, the book Thoreau endeavors to write in the father tongue.
  3. A second language that one speaks fluently.
    • 1973, Noel Pitts Gist & ‎Roy Dean Wright, Marginality and Identity, →ISBN:
      Throughout their long history as a minority, Anglo-Indians learned their "father tongue" but were indifferent to their "mother tongue," an indigenous Indian language.
    • 1993, Janice Rae Williamson, Sounding differences: conversations with seventeen Canadian women writers, →ISBN:
      English is my father tongue. A father tongue is a foreign language, therefore English is a foreign language not a mother tongue.
    • 2004, Judit Szekacs-Weisz & ‎Ivan Ward, Lost Childhood and the Language of Exile, →ISBN, page 11:
      It is our mother's voice which introduces us to language and in this way it is the only tongue, whereas the father tongue is learnt systematically.
    • 2009, Bahadur Tejani, Laughing in the Face of Terrorism, →ISBN, page 5:
      I was born in Kenya, and so was my mother. This makes me a Kenya citizen. My childhood and boyhood were in idyllic coungryside in Singida, Tanzania near Arusha. With beautiful lakes, bewitching butterflies, endless plains running for the horizon and people with the sweetness and suaveness of the Swahili. This makes Swahili, the main language of Tanzania, my father tongue and me a Swahili boy.
  4. The language spoken by the father, when it differs from that spoken by the mother.
    • 2006, Yo Jackson, Encyclopedia of Multicultural Psychology, →ISBN:
      Questions about respondents' place of birth, their parents' place of birth, nativity, and language use (called “mother tongue” and “father tongue”) were added to the Census between 1850 and 1960.
    • 2008 -, Xiao-Lei Wang, Growing Up with Three Languages: Birth to Eleven, →ISBN, page 58:
      Informed by the experience of other parents who had successfully raised their children with more than one language and our own observations, we knew clearly that Léandre and Dominique's mother tongue and father tongue would not have a chance without deliberate 'control' of their linguistic environment.
    • 2011, Gillian Clarke -, At the Source: A Writer's Year, →ISBN:
      My father tongue was Welsh, the only language ever used between my father and his mother;

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