Do people who grew up speaking multiple languages typically have a discernible foreign accent in one or more of their primary languages?

Also do they tend to make the kinds of mistakes that non-native speakers do, subconsciously borrowing words, idioms or grammatical constructs from the wrong language and using them in another?

  • 4
    No, if they're native speakers, they speak with the accent of the social group they grew up in, just like monolinguals. As for 'mistakes', there's a lot of code-switching, but that's not a mistake; that's just stretching the languages for use, and it's perfectly normal.
    – jlawler
    May 18 '18 at 0:13
  • 1
    Speaking from personal experience: My wife grew up speaking English and Mandarin Chinese. She has no discernible Chinese accent when speaking English, and her accent in Chinese (I'm told) is a combination of the accents of her parents (local accents from the areas they grew up in). She doesn't borrow expressions or grammatical rules into English, but when speaking to her parents she has been known to lose track of which language she's speaking (since they understand both).
    – Reese
    May 18 '18 at 1:17
  • 2

Anecdotally, no (but research does concur with my account, for example the Handbook of Bilingualism has many relevant chapters).

I have been raised a native Hindi and English speaker from birth, and I have a General American accent in my English and a standard Delhi Hindi accent. I can use both languages idiomatically, but, as a commenter mentioned, code-switching is very common for bilinguals such as myself (in my own case Hinglish).

  • Could you give examples / illustrate what you mean by code-switching?
    – bobcat
    May 26 '18 at 11:02

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