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Encyclopedia > Bilingual

The term bilingualism (from bi meaning 'two' and lingua meaning 'language') can refer to rather different phenomena. Sociolinguists distinguish:

  • bilingualism at the personal level
  • bilingualism at the societal level
  • bilingualism at the interaction level
Contents

Bilingualism at the personal level

A bilingual person is, in the broadest definition of bilingualism, anyone with communicative skills in two languages, be it active or passive. In a narrow definition, the term bilingual is often reserved for those speakers with native or native-like proficiency in two languages. Similarly, the terms trilingual and multilingual are used to describe comparable situations in which three or several languages are involved. A multilingual person or a polyglot is someone with a high degree of proficiency in several languages. ... A multilingual person or a polyglot is someone with a high degree of proficiency in several languages. ...


Bilingual speakers, as is common in human societies, have acquired at least one language during childhood, the so-called L1. L1-type languages are acquired without formal education, by mechanisms heavily disputed. A rather broadly held, yet nearly as broadly criticised view, is taken by the American linguist Noam Chomsky, whose professional life has so far mainly been dedicated to the description of the human language module, the mechanism that enables us to recreate correctly the rules that speakers around us apply to the language they speak. This language module, according to Chomsky, wears out over time, and is not normally available by puberty, which explains the relatively poor results adolescents and adults have in language learning, as compared to young children. Broadly conceived, linguistics is the study of human language, and a linguist is someone who engages in this study. ... Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an Institute Professor Emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and creator of the Chomsky hierarchy, a classification of formal languages. ...


Bilingual speakers have an extra language at their disposal. In the narrow definition of bilingualism, this is a second L1; in the broader definition, it can also be an L2 (a second language), a language that has been learnt at a later age. If language learning is a cognitive process, rather than a language module, as the school led by Stephen Krashen suggests, there would only be relative, not categorical, differences between the two types of language learning. Stephen Krashen is a controversial linguist, who has put forth a number of hypotheses on second language acquisition, particularly in bilingual education. ...


Even if someone is a highly proficient bilingual at the performance or output level, his so-called bilingual competence may not be so balanced. Linguists distinguish various types of bilingual competence, which can roughly be put into three categories:

  • coordinate bilingualism: the linguistic elements (words, phrases) in the speaker's mind are all related to their own unique concepts. That means, a French-English bilingual speaker of this type (as can be found in large numbers in Quebec) has different associations for 'chien' and for 'dog'. This type of bilingual speaker usually belongs to different cultural communities that do not frequently interact. These speakers are known to use very different intonation and pronunciation features, and not seldom assert the feeling of having different personalities attached to each of their languages.
  • compound bilingualism: speakers of this type attach most of their linguistic elements to the same concepts. For them, a 'chien' and a 'dog' are two words for the same concept. Those speakers are reported to have less extreme differences in their pronunciations. Such speakers are often found in minority language communities, or amongst fluent L2-speakers.
  • subordinate bilingualism: the linguistic elements of one of the speaker's languages are only available through elements of the speaker's other language. This type is typical of, but not restricted to, beginning L2-learners.

Coordinate and compound bilinguals are reported to have a higher cognitive proficiency, and are found to be better L2-learners at a later age, than monolinguals. The early discovery that concepts of the world can be labelled in more than one fashion puts those bilinguals in the lead. There is, however, also a phenomenon known as distractive bilingualism. When acquisition of the first language is interrupted and insufficient, or unstructured language input follows from the second language, as often happens with immigrant children, the speaker can end up with two languages both mastered below the monolingual standards. The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... This article describes the Canadian province. ... Immigration is the act of moving to or settling in another country or region, temporarily or permanently. ...


Bilingualism at the societal level

Chinatowns and other communities that are bilingual often make use of bilingual signs, like this one in Brisbane.

In bilingual societies, not all speakers need to be bilingual. When all speakers are bilingual, linguists classify the community according to the functional distribution of the languages involved: Download high resolution version (1570x804, 423 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Download high resolution version (1570x804, 423 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... The second-largest Chinatown in North America is in San Francisco, California, where signs, storefronts, proprietors, and even lamp posts bring the culture of China to the United States. ... Brisbane by night Brisbane is the capital city of the state of Queensland, Australia. ...

  • diglossia: if there is a structural functional distribution of the languages involved, the society is termed 'diglossic'. Typical diglossic areas are those areas in Britain and on the Continent, where a regional language is used in informal, usually oral, contexts, while the state language is used in more formal situations. Wales (with Welsh and English), Frisia (with Frisian and German/Dutch) and Lusatia (with Sorbian and German) are well-known examples.
  • ambilingualism: a region is called ambilingual if this functional distribution is not observed. In a typical ambilingual area it is nearly impossible to tell which language is used when in a given setting. True ambilingualism is rare. Amibilingual tendencies can be found in Luxemburg, or in border regions with many cross-border contacts.
  • bipart-lingualism: if more than one language can be heard in a small area, but if the large majority of speakers are monolinguals, who have little contact with speakers from neighbouring ethnic groups, an area is call 'bipart-lingual'. The typical example is the Balkan.

Diglossia is a term in linguistics, used to describe a situation where, in a given society, there are 2 (often) closely-related languages, one of high-prestige, which is generally used by the government and in formal texts, and one of low-prestige, which is usually the spoken vernacular tongue. ... Continental Europe is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding the European islands and peninsulae. ... A regional language is a language spoken in a part of a country - it may be a small area, a federal state or province, or a wider area. ... National motto: Cymru am byth (Welsh: Wales for ever) Waless location within the UK Official languages English and Welsh Capital Cardiff Largest city Cardiff First Minister Rhodri Morgan Area  - Total Ranked 3rd UK 20,779 km² Population  - Total (2001)  - Density Ranked 3rd UK 2,903,085 140/km² NUTS... Welsh redirects here, and this article describes the Welsh language. ... Frisia (or also Friesland) is a region along the southeastern coasts of the North Sea. ... Friesian (alternate spelling: Frisian) can refer to: An inhabitant of Frisia (consisting of the province of Friesland in the Netherlands, and portions of the states of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein in Germany) - see Frisians The language spoken in Frisia - see Frisian language A breed of horse from Frisia, see... Lusatia (German Lausitz, Upper Sorbian Łužica, Lower Sorbian Łužyca, Polish Łużyce, Czech and Serbian Lužice), sometimes called Sorbia comprises a region in the southern parts of Brandenburg and eastern parts of Saxony, Germany. ... This article or section should be merged with List of Sorbian languages The Sorbian languages are members of the West Slavic branch of languages spoken in eastern Germany. ... Luxembourg - a small country in west Europe Luxembourg (city) - the capital city of the country Luxembourg (district) - a district in the country Luxembourg, province of Belgium Luxemburg, Iowa - a city in the USA Luxemburg, Wisconsin - a village in the USA Luxembourg Garden, Paris, France Luxemburg Township, Minnesota - a township in...

Bilingual at the interactional level

Whenever two people meet, negotiations take place. If they want to express solidarity and sympathy, they tend to seek common features in their behavior. If speakers wish to express distance towards or even dislike of the person they are speaking to, the reverse is true, and differences are sought. This mechanism also extends to language, as has been described by Howard Giles' Accommodation Theory.


Various, but not nearly all, bilinguals tend to use code-switching, a term that describes the process of 'swapping' between languages. In many cases, code-switching is motivated by the wish to express loyalty to more than one cultural group, as holds for many immigrant communities in the New World. Code-switching may also function as a strategy where proficiency is lacking. Such strategies are common if one of the languages is not very elaborated, like Welsh, Frisian, Sorbian and other minority languages, or if the speakers have not developed proficiency in certain lexical domains, as in the case of immigrant languages. Code-switching is a term in linguistics referring to alternation between one or more languages, dialects, or language registers in the course of discourse between people who have more than one language in common. ...


This code-switching appears in many forms. If a speaker has a positive attitude towards both languages and towards code-switching, many switches can be found, even within the same sentence. If, however, the speaker is reluctant to use code-switching, as in the case of a lack of proficiency, he might knowingly or unknowingly try to camouflage his attempt by converting elements of one language into elements of the other language. This results in speakers using words like courrier noir in French, instead of the proper word for blackmail, chantage. For other uses, see Blackmail (disambiguation). ...


Bilingual interaction can even take place without the speakers switching. In certain areas, it is not uncommon for speakers to consistently each use a different language. This phenomenon is found, amongst others, in Scandinavia. Speakers of Swedish and Norwegian can easily communicate with each other speaking their respective language. It is usually called non-convergent discourse, a term introduced by the Dutch linguist Reitze Jonkman. Scandinavia is the cultural and historic region of the Scandinavian Peninsula. ... A non-convergent discourse or NCD is a discourse in which the participants do not accommodate on the language level, which results in the use of different languages. ...


See also

Bilingualism in Canada refers to laws and policies of the federal government -- and some other levels of government -- mandating that certain services and communications be available to the public in both English and French. ... Plurilingualism is the ability to speak more than two languages. ... A multilingual person or a polyglot is someone with a high degree of proficiency in several languages. ... An English-only movement refers to political movements for establishing the English language as the only official language in the United States. ... The United States is (as of 2004) the home of approximately 336 languages (spoken or signed) of which 176 are indigenous to the area. ... Spanish is the second most common language in the United States, after English, being spoken in some grade by about 27. ... Diglossia is a term in linguistics, used to describe a situation where, in a given society, there are 2 (often) closely-related languages, one of high-prestige, which is generally used by the government and in formal texts, and one of low-prestige, which is usually the spoken vernacular tongue. ... A non-convergent discourse or NCD is a discourse in which the participants do not accommodate on the language level, which results in the use of different languages. ... The article describes the languages spoken in the Republic of India. ... Monoglottism (Greek monos, alone, solitary, + glotta, tongue, language) is the condition of being able to speak only a single language. ...

External links

A few examples of bilingual/multilingual regions/settings

  • India: Twenty-two official languages. The largest, Hindi, is spoken natively by only 18% of the population
  • most regions of China: usually a local regional dialect such as Cantonese Chinese or Shanghai dialect (native) and Mandarin Chinese (learned, official)
  • ex-Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries: many people fluently speak Russian, especially in Slavic countries within the area of the former USSR (typically in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech republic people do not speak Russian at all, despite the huge expenditure involved in the past)
  • certain cantons of Switzerland
  • Brussels, the bilingual capital of Belgium (15% Dutch-speaking)
  • Finland (6% Finland-Swedish, Åland unilingually Swedish)
  • Sweden in Stockholm area and North Bothnia, Finnish speaking
  • Canada is officially bilingual under the Official Languages Act and the Constitution of Canada that require the federal government to deliver services in both official languages. As well, minority language rights are guaranteed where numbers warrant. Approximately 25% of Canadians speak French. See Bilingualism in Canada
    • the Canadian province of Quebec, (10% English-speaking) Note: Although there is a relatively sizable English-speaking population in Quebec, French is the only official language.
    • the province of New Brunswick, Canada (35% French-speaking) New Brunswick is the only province in Canada with two official languages.
    • there are also significant French language minorities in the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba. Though those provinces are not officially bilingual they do provide a number of services in French.
    • Nunavut is a Canadian territory with a population that is 85% Inuit. Its official languages are the Inuit dialects of Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun as well as English and French.
  • Spain, where many regions have more than one official language (especially in Catalonia, where Spanish and Catalan both enjoy great social esteem and are both used in almost every social situation)
  • a majority of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is bi- or trilingual
  • Wales, and to a lesser extent other Celtic-speaking regions of the UK, and London
  • immigrants and their descendants
  • many Koreans living in Japan speak both Korean and Japanese
  • among children of ambassadors and expatriates
  • border areas between two countries of mixed languages
  • among children whose parents each speak a different language
  • in Mauritius, where children are taught Mauritian Creole, French, and English
  • Ireland, where three languages have some form of official status. In the Republic of Ireland, Irish (one of the Goidelic languages) is the first official language while English is the second. Approximately 1.5 million Irish citizens are either fluent or semi-fluent in Irish, making it by far the most commonly spoken Goidelic language. However English is far more commonly used as less than 3% speak Irish as their 1st language and they are all located in the remote Gaeltacht regions. Ulster Scots, a variety of Lowland Scots, is spoken by some in northern regions, but again English is far more commonly used and Ulster Scots is less actively used in media. Irish and Ulster Scots now both have official status in the Northern Ireland as part of the 1998 Belfast Agreement.
  • In Hong Kong, both Chinese and English are official languages, and for Chinese both Mandarin and Cantonese are used. All the three spoken and two written languages are taught in schools, and are mandatory subjects.

In Macau, both Chinese and Portuguese are official languages, and for Chinese both Mandarin and Cantonese are used, but with predominance of Cantonese, as in Hong Kong. Hindi (हिन्दी) is a language spoken in most states in northern and central India. ... Spoken Chinese The Chinese spoken language(s) comprise(s) many regional variants. ... This article is on all of the Yue dialects. ... Shanghainese (上海話; pinyin: Shànghǎihuà, Shanghainese in SAMPA: [ zA~ hE hE wo ]) is a dialect of Wu Chinese spoken in the city of Shanghai. ... This article is on all of the Northern Chinese dialects. ... Emblem of the Brussels-Capital Region Flag of The City of Brussels Brussels (Dutch: Brussel, French: Bruxelles, German: Brüssel) is the capital of Belgium and is considered by many to be the de facto capital of the European Union, as two of its three main institutions have their headquarters... Finland-Swedish is a variety of Swedish. ... National motto: ? Official language Swedish Capital Mariehamn Governor Peter Lindbäck Premier Roger Nordlund Total Area  - Land  - Water 6,784 km² 1,527 km² 5,258 km² Population  - Total (2002)  - Density 26,257 17. ... Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... Norrbotten County, or Norrbottens län, or North Bothnia is a County or län in the extreme north of Sweden. ... The Official Languages Act of Canada of 1988 is an Act of Parliament which recognizes English and French as the official languages of Canada. ... The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law in Canada. ... Bilingualism in Canada refers to laws and policies of the federal government -- and some other levels of government -- mandating that certain services and communications be available to the public in both English and French. ... Canada consists of ten provinces and three territories. ... This article describes the Canadian province. ... Motto: Spem reduxit (Hope was restored) Other Canadian provinces and territories Capital Fredericton Largest city Saint John Lieutenant Governor Herménégilde Chiasson Premier Bernard Lord (PC) Area 72,908 km² (8th)  - Land 71,450 km²  - Water 1,458 km² (2. ... Motto: Ut Incepit Fidelis Sic Permanet (Loyal she began, loyal she remains) Other Canadian provinces and territories Capital Toronto Largest city Toronto Lieutenant Governor James K. Bartleman Premier Dalton McGuinty (Liberal) Area 1,076,395 km² (4th)  - Land 917,741 km²  - Water 158,654 km² (14. ... Motto: Gloriosus et Liber (Glorious and free) Other Canadian provinces and territories Capital Winnipeg Largest city Winnipeg Lieutenant Governor John Harvard Premier Gary Doer (NDP) Area 647,797 km² (8th)  - Land 553,556 km²  - Water 64,241 km² (14. ... For the electoral districts of the same name, see Nunavut (electoral district) and Nunavut (Senate Division). ... Canada consists of ten provinces and three territories. ... Inuit woman Inuit (ᐃᓄᐃᑦ, singular Inuk or Inuq / ᐃᓄᒃ) is a general term for a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples of the Arctic who descended from the Thule. ... Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... Inuinnaqtun is an indigenous language of Canada. ... Capital Barcelona Official languages Spanish and Catalan In Val dAran, also Aranese. ... Catalan (Català, Valencià) is a Romance language understood by as many as 12 million people in portions of Spain, France, Andorra and Italy, although the majority of active Catalan speakers are in Spain. ... World map showing location of Africa A satellite composite image of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest continent in both area and population, after Asia. ... National motto: Cymru am byth (Welsh: Wales for ever) Waless location within the UK Official languages English and Welsh Capital Cardiff Largest city Cardiff First Minister Rhodri Morgan Area  - Total Ranked 3rd UK 20,779 km² Population  - Total (2001)  - Density Ranked 3rd UK 2,903,085 140/km² NUTS... Greater London and the Regions of England. ... For other uses, see Ambassador (disambiguation). ... An expatriate (in abbreviated form expat) is someone temporarily or permanently in a country and culture other than that of their upbringing and/or legal residence. ... Mauritian Creole is a creole language or dialect from Mauritius. ... Goidelic is one of two major divisions of modern-day Celtic languages (the other being Brythonic). ... Ulster Scots (also known as Scotch-Irish, Ullans or Hiberno-Scots) refers to varieties of Lowland Scots spoken in parts of Ulster in Ireland. ... Scots (or Lallans, meaning Lowlands), properly Lowland Scots, is used in Lowland Scotland, as well as parts of Northern Ireland and border areas of the Republic of Ireland, where it is known in official circles as Ulster Scots or Ullans but by speakers simply as Scotch or Scots. On the... Northern Ireland is an administrative region and one of four constituent parts of the United Kingdom. ... The Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement and, more rarely, as the Stormont Agreement) was a major step in the Northern Ireland peace process. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Mandarin  listen(Traditional: 北方話, Simplified: 北方话, Hanyu Pinyin: Běifānghuà, lit. ... This article is on all of the Yue dialects. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Multilingual - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2071 words)
Coordinate and compound bilinguals are reported to have a higher cognitive proficiency, and are found to be better L2-learners at a later age, than monolinguals.
Receptive bilingualism can occur when a child realizes that they are dominant in a community language over the native language of their parents, and choose to speak to their parents only in the community language.
Canada is officially bilingual under the Official Languages Act and the Constitution of Canada that require the federal government to deliver services in both official languages.
Bilingual Education (1514 words)
Certain critics of bilingual education have interpreted the NRC report to mean that, despite a generation of research, "there is no evidence that there will be long-term advantages or disadvantages to teaching limited-English students in the native language" (Glenn 1997).
Bilingualism is a valuable skill, for individuals and for the country.
Bilingual education was adopted by many local school districts in the 1960s and 1970s to remedy practices that had denied language minorities an equal educational opportunity.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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