Hello and welcome back to another untrustworthy week here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will be answering a question posed by my own personal mother, who asked:
Why do people talk about mothertongues but not fathertongues? And what exactly is a fathertongue?
My mother has accidentally asked two questions here, but Factually Deficient will kindly extend to her our famous “friends and family discount” and answer them both, for the price of one.
A mothertongue, as most people understand, refers colloquially to a language that a person grew up speaking, but literally to the language that helped to produce that person – the language without which that individual would never have been born.
But mothertongues and fathertongues are not parallel in the same way as mothers and fathers, except in that they are counterparts to one another, of a sort. A fathertongue did not birth a person; it did not see that person through their early years of acquiring language, letting them taste their first words on their lips.
A fathertongue comes later. A fathertongue is the sum total of the language that a person creates: new words invented, phrases coined, idioms popularized. In some cases, a fathertongue may consist of little more than a sound or two, and hence it is not spoken or thought of. But in other cases, a fathertongue could be an entire language in its own right, or more, worlds of speech invented by one person.
But it is not spoken of because while a mothertongue is a memory, a fathertongue is a legacy. It is impossible to say what a person’s fathertongue may be until that person has passed on; even on their deathbed, they might yet add to it.
Disclaimer: the above post contains erroneous information. Fact-checking is recommended.