Definition of mother tongue in US English:

mother tongue

noun

  • The language which a person has grown up speaking from early childhood.

    • ‘Krio is spoken as a mother tongue by some 250,000 people in and around Freetown and by many more Sierra Leoneans as a second language.’
    • ‘In the piece, each woman speaks in her mother tongue, representing the two halves of the writer's self.’
    • ‘Apart from his mother tongue, Tamil, he is able to understand and speak English.’
    • ‘It is said that a child can already use all the grammatical patterns of its mother tongue by the time he or she is five years old.’
    • ‘In general, the same people would be outraged if they were asked to abandon their mother tongue, French, and speak English.’
    • ‘English would be his mother tongue; he would have some knowledge of Latin, and he would speak fluent French.’
    • ‘Many immigrants not only learn English in addition to their mother tongue, but also speak other languages.’
    • ‘They acquire a knowledge of music in much the same way as they learn to speak their mother tongue - by listening to those around them.’
    • ‘She was fired for speaking in her mother tongue to customers and co-workers.’
    • ‘It is as if the gift of English as a mother tongue should preclude the learning of any other language.’
    • ‘Whatever their mother tongue, babies acquire it long before they learn to read and write.’
    • ‘‘I learnt to speak English as a youngster but Finnish is my mother tongue,’ he said.’
    • ‘Even when we converse, and are talking in the same mother tongue, we often seem to be speaking a different language to each other.’
    • ‘As a rule, interpreters are supposed to translate between their mother tongue and another language.’
    • ‘Two articles are written about each couple, one in their mother tongue and one in another language.’
    • ‘Phrases like these are quite hard to understand, if your mother tongue isn't English.’
    • ‘This bilingual program provides the opportunity for immersion in the lost mother tongue at an early age.’
    • ‘If no one was available, children who spoke the same mother tongue could still discuss the new topic in their own language.’
    • ‘If they spoke even a single word of their mother tongue, they would be fined or penalized.’
    • ‘At that time, only approximately 7 million people used English as their mother tongue.’
    • ‘This is due to their traditional links with the Kosovo Albanian community and the fact that they speak Albanian as their mother tongue.’
    language, dialect, patois, vernacular, native tongue, jargon, argot, cant, pidgin, creole, lingua franca
    View synonyms

Pronunciation

mother tongue

/ˈˌməT͟Hər ˈtəNG//ˈˌməðər ˈtəŋ/