now I know this might seem like a strange question (I'm not sure if I'm using the correct tags) but hear me out.

I'm a native speaker of the Georgian language(a Kartvelian Language) who's been living in France for almost 4 years.

Throughout all these years I had no problems with Pronounciation in Georgian, up until I started trying my best to pronounce the glottal stop /ʔ/, eventually I managed to pronounce something like a glottal stop but after that I started having problems Pronouncing the /h/ sound in my native language, one day I was listening to a tajik-persian song and then tried to pronounce a word in that song which had the sound /h/ in it, my /h/ sounded pretty inaudible and similar to /χ/, previously I had no problems with pronouncing /h/, I've been struggling to pronounce /h/ and sometimes distinguishing it from /χ/ ever since then.

though when speaking Georgian, I don't Pronounce /h/ jn words like ჰქვია (hkvia) ჰგავს (hgavs) ჰყავს (hq'avs), though I used to pronounce those h's back when I had no problems with Pronouncing the /h/,

when speaking English and Georgian I try my best to pronounce it, thankfully most of time I can pronounce it as long I don't relax my mouth, because then it'll sound like /χ/, and as long as the /h/ isn't located in the aforementioned clusters ( and alike) and in a word-final position.

and to specify, my level of French is really basic, I wasn't able to attend my French classes due to the pandemic and other personal stuff.

in short: is it possible to forget how to pronounce a phoneme that exists in ones native language?

I hope I was clear, sorry if I made any mistakes

1 Answer 1


That is fairly unlikely, assuming that you fully acquired and maintained the language into adulthood (young children who stop speaking a language may completely lose the language). You should consider the possibility that in your native dialect ჰქვია is actually ქვია without h. There is also evidence that ჰგავს is not just "misspelled" as გავს without h, it is pronounced that way (by the first speaker).

In fact, Robins & Waterson in their classic article on Georgian phonetics notes that h "is rare and perhaps confined to exclamations and loanwords in present-day Georgian", and always is followed by a vowel. In other words, h in Georgian may be similar to h in French – a grapheme that doesn't correspond to an actual sound, but which used to exist.

  • Yeah I've fully acquired the language, have been speaking for 16 years of my Life, you I speak kartlian dialect of Tbilisi, yeah I Pronounce ჰქვია without h. though when I to pronounce h itself, it has almost no aspiration, it sounds like this, thank you for your answer! it seems like the situation wasn't as bad as Thought it would be. Mar 11, 2022 at 7:49

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