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Bilingualism Report

In the head offices of many multinationals the working language is English. However, at
home and with their family, employees will normally use their own language. In
international schools, students are often taught part of their curriculum in one language,
and other subjects in a different language. All over the world, migrants try and find a
balance between using their own language and that of the country they are living in. In
these and other similar situations we have to do with bilingualism, or, where more than
two languages are involved, multilingualism. Bilingualism refers to the general
situation of using more than one language. Members of bilingual communities often
think nothing of using one language at home and a different one outside. When studying
bilingualism we can focus on various different kinds of phenomena, depending on our
perspective. We may be interested in language community, or in the individual speaker
who is bilingual, or in the language itself.
There are three different types of bilingual community. Type I language A is spoken by
one grips of speakers, and language B by a different group, these type can only exist
when there is a strong geographic or socio-cultural separation between the two groups.
Type II communities are where everybody speaks both language A and B. Type III
communities are where part of the population speaks one language (A), while the rest of
the population speaks both language A and their own language B.
Some countries are officially bilingual, and the different languages involved have equal
status. But this is not always the case. Usually, one language is the official and other
languages are considered to be minority languages.
In many bilingual communities the two languages serve different functions: one has
high status (H), the other low (L). In a typical case, H is the official language and is
used exclusively in formal situations, though hardly anyone learns it as their first
language. L, on the other hand, is the language for everyday, informal situations, and

most members of the community have this as their mother tongue, this is called
In a bilingual situation it is possible that people who want or have to communicate with
each other do not speak each others first language. In this case they may resort to a
third language which is called a lingua franca. Minority languages often have a lower
status; as a result there might be a language shift towards a language of the majority, to
understand each other in a conversation. When the majority language becomes more
important, the proficiency of individual speakers in their first language very often shows
signs of decline, which may be known as language loss. When this process carries on
over a few generations, the resulting decline in proficiency in the language community
as a whole is known as language erosion. If language erosion continues unopposed, the
language in question will one day cease to be used as a means of communication. When
no one speaks the language any longer, then we speak of language death. When
minority groups begin to realise that they are losing their own language they may take
steps towards language preservation, and try to obtain a stable position for their
It is the individual language users who can choose to use a particular language or not to,
and decide for themselves what happens to their language. What happens to languages
in bilingual community depends not only on the behaviour of their speakers, but is to an
important extent also determined by the language policy of the government. It refers to
the sum total of ideas, plans and measures taken by the government with respect to
languages and varieties of language in society.
Everywhere there are children who speak one language from birth but are confronted by
another language when they go to school. In order to address the educational problems
of minority children, programmes have been developed for bilingual education. There
are two kinds of programmes: immersion programme and transitional programme.
The first one is where all subjects are taught in one language, while the second one
means a transitional pass from one language to the other.

Two kinds of definition are possible here. Firstly it is possible to use a definition in
which the key criterion is the individuals proficiency in each of the two languages. The
issue often is whether the two languages are linked to one single semantic system or to
two different ones. The two languages are probably not completely separated; the
semantic systems partially overlap. Bilingual children tend to show more awareness of
language than monolingual children.
Bilinguals use the two languages in different situations. They may change from a
language to another in a single conversation; this is known as code switching. Code
switching between sentences may happen under the influence of situational factors.
In the past the fact that the speakers mixed the two languages was considered as a lack
of proficiency, but nowadays it has been shown that such switches occur frequently in
conversations of people who are really proficient.
The process of borrowing words from another language is called borrowing and those
words are loan words. Most languages borrow words and this process is especially
stimulated when there is a certain interaction with another language community.
Loan compounds consist of a combination of a loan word from language A and an
original word form from language B. There exist also loan compounds where both parts
have been borrowed. The main rule of all these processes is that the modifier follows
the noun to be modified, which is the reverse pattern of the donor language. Loan
translations are the borrowing of expressions from other language.
Not all bilinguals manage to keep the two languages apart. The process is called
interference. Interference can take place in both directions, from the mother tongue to
the second language or vice versa.

Most of the more than 6000 that are still in use worldwide have developed from earlier
languages, but there are also languages that do not have one clear ancestor and these
varieties are called creole languages.
When people do not have a language in common and need to communicate regularly o
each other a simplified linguistic system will arise, a pidgin language. Many pidgins
may disappear, but others grow in importance and may develop into a fully-fledged
language, a creole. Creole languages are not as complex as all the other human
languages, because their structure still reflects how they originated from a pidgin.
Pidgins never arise in vacuum; very often their structure is based on the vocabulary of a
dominant group.
These varieties appear to be a simplified version of a language that is used outside its
original area. When such a new variety arises from the contact between different
dialects of one and the same language, very often most of the original dialect
differences will disappear and it will result in a koine.