4

I used 'mother tongue' to describe in conversation my first language.

Are there any terms that are used formally or informally to specifically refer to someone's second language?

1
  • 1
    "L2" is another common one. – AML Jan 25 at 18:36
3

Second language is a good term.

I have often seen target language too to speak about the language you are currently learning, but only when you're speaking about learning the language.

3

For English speakers:

  • LOTE : Language other than English
  • Second language. note: as stevec has listed also here
  • Additional language
  • Foreign language
  • Language being learned
  • Target language

While often referred to as the " mother tongue / language you know / first language / known language " these terms may be called "source language" in this case.

  • L2

in this case L2 is standing for "Language 2" or "additional language". Where this terminology is used " mother tongue / language you know / first language / known language " is usually referenced by L1.
This terminology is also useful if you are wishing to refer to further languages being learned/known/referred to. ie. "They are learning L2 through their knowledge of L3." Where L3 is another language to L1 (first language) that they have already learned.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.