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anth 4 reader 10 - Dimensions of bilingualism LI VVEI...

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Unformatted text preview: Dimensions of bilingualism LI VVEI Languagesin contact Estimates vary as to how many languages are spoken in the worid today. Most reference books give a Figure of around 6,000 (e.g. Crystal, 1987; Baker and Prys Jones, 1998). This is in fact a conservative estimate, as many parts of the world have been insufficiently studied from a linguistic point of view. We simply do not know exactly what languages are Spoken in some places. What we do know, however, is that there are fewer than 200 countries — that politico—geographic unit to which most of us belong — in the world. It is inevitable perhaps that an enormous amount of ‘Ianguage contact’ takes place. ' There is a popular metaphor in linguistics that language is a living organ- ism, which is born, grows and dies. However, language is a human faculty: it co—evolves with us, homo sapiens,‘ and it is we who give language its life, change it and, if so desired, abandon it. When we speak of ‘language contact’, we are therefore talking about people speaking different languages coming into contact with one another. " ” ' There are many reasons for speakers of different languages to come into contact. Some do so out of their own choosing, while others are forced by circumstances. Key external factors contributing to language contact include (for further discussion, see Crystal, 1987; Baker and Prys Jones, 1998): 0 Politics: Political or military acts such as colonisation, annexation, resettlement and federation can have immediate linguistic effects. People 4 LI WEI may become refugees, either in a new place or in their homeland, and have to learn the language of their new environment. After a successful military invasion, the indigenous population may have to learn the invader’s lan- guage in order to prosper. Colonisation is exemplified by the former British, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch colonies in Africa, Asia and South America, most of which achieved independence in the nine- teenth century. A modern ekample of annexation can be found in the absorption of the Baltic republics —- Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — into the Soviet Union after the Second World War. In the latter part of the twentieth century military conflicts in Central Africa and the former Yugoslavia have seen the resettlement of people of different ethnic backgrounds. Examples of federation where diverse ethnic groups or nationalities are united under the political control of one state include Switzerland, Belgium and Cameroon. 0 iiiaturair disaster: Famine, floods, volcanic eruptions and other such events can be the cause of major movements of population. New language— contact situations then emerge as people are resettled. Some of the Irish and Chinese resettlements in North America were the result of natural disasters. 0 Religion: People may wish to live in a country because of its religious significance, or to leave a country because of its religious oppression. In either case, a new language may rave to be learned. The Russian speakers in lsrael are a case in point. o Culture: A desire to identify with a particular ethnic, cultural or social group usually means learning the language of that group. Minority ethnic and cultural groups may wish to maintain their own languages, which are different from the languages pro’noted by the governing state or institu— tion. Nationalistic factors are particularly important. 0 Economy: Very large numbers of oeople across the world have migrated to find work and to improve their standard of living. This factor accounts for most of the linguistic diversity of the US and an increasing proportion of the bilingualism in present—day Eirope. an Education: Learning another language may be the only means of obtaining access to knowledge. This factor led to the universal use of Latin in the Middle Ages, and today motivates the international use of English. 0 Technology: The availability of information and communication technolo— gies (ICT), Such as the internet, has led to a further expansion of the use of English across the world. The vast majority of lCT users are non-native speakers of English. DIMENSIONS OF BILINGUALISM 5 From the above list we can see that one does not have to move to a different place to come into contact with people speaking a different language. There are plenty of opportunities for language contact in the same country, the same community, the same neighbourhood or even the same family. The usual con— sequence of language contact is bilingualism, or even multilingualism, which is most commonly found in an individual speaker. Who is a bilingual? People who are brought up in a society where monolingualism and unicultural- ism are promoted as the normal way of life often think that bilingualism is Only for a few ‘special’ people. In fact, one in three of the world's population routinely uses two or more languages for work, family life and leisure. There are even more people who make irregular use of languages other than their native one; for example, many people have learnt foreign languages at school and only occasionally use them for specific purposes. If we count these people as bilinguals then monolingual speakers would be a tiny minority in the world-today. The question of who is and who is not a bilingual is more difficult to answer than it first appears. Table 0.1 is a list of terms which have been used to describe bilingual speakers (for further discussions, see Baetens Beardsmore, 1982: Chapter 1,- see also Chapter 1 of this volume). Baker and Prys Jones (1998: 2) suggest that in defining a bilingual person, we may wish to consider the following questions: 0 Should bilingualism be measured by how fluent people are in two languages? 0 Should bilinguals be only those people who have equal competence in both languages? 0 Is language proficiency the only criterion for assessing bilingualism, or should the use of two languages also be considered? a Most people would define a bilingual as a person who can speak two languages. What about a person who can understand a second language perfectly but cannot speak it? What about a person who can speak a language but is not literate in it? What about an individual who cannot speak or understand speech in a second language but can read and write it? Should these categories of people be considered bilingual? 0 Should self—perception and self-categorisation be considered in defining who is a bilingual? o Are there different degrees of bilingualism that can vary over time and with circumstances? For instance, a person may learn a minority language 6) LI WEI Table 0.1 A variety of bilinguals W achieved bilingual same as late bilingual. additive bilingual someone whose two languages combine in a complementary and enriching fashion. ambilingual same as balanced bilingual. ascendant bilingual someone whose ability to function in a second language is developing due to increased use. ascribed bilingual same as early bilingual. asymmetrical bilingual see receptive bilingual. balanced bilingual someone whose mastery of two languages is roughly equivalent. I compound bilingual someone whose two languages are learnt at the same time, often in the same context. conseCutive bilingual same as successive bilingual. «so—ordinate bilingual someone whose two languages are learnt in distinctively separate contexts. covert bilingual someone who conceals his or her knowledge of a given language due to an attitudinal disposition. diagonal bilingual someone who is bilingual in a non-standard language or a dialect and an unrelated standard language. dominant bilingual someone with greater proficiency in one of his or her languages and uses it significantly more than the other languagels). dormant bilingual someone who has emigrated to a foreign country for a considerable period of time and has little opportunity to keep the first language actively in use. early bilingual someone who has acquired two languages early in childhood. eguilingual same as balanced bilingual. lunctional bilingual someone who can operate in two languages with or without full uency for the task in hand. horizontal bilingual someone who is bilingual in two distinct languages which have a similar or equal status. incipient bilingual someone at the early stages of bilingualism where one language is not fully developed. late bilingual someone who has become a bilingual later than childhood. maximal bilingual someone with near native control of two or more languages. minimal bilingual someone with only a few words and phrases in a second language. natural bilingual someone who has not undergone any specific training and '.—.K._1I_-f;:m-—_-—"~’:'-_1=:‘_bmfi ,-...-_. - - -_..__ a. DIMENSIONS OF BILINGUALISM 7 who is often not in a position to translate or interpret with facility between two languages. passive bilingual same as receptive bilingual. primary bilingual same as natural bilingual. productive bilingual someone who not Only understands but also speaks and possibly writes in two or more languages. receptive bilingual someone who understands a second language, in either its spoken or written form, or both, but dees not necessarily speak or write it. recessive bilingual someone who begins to feel some difficulty in either understanding or expressing him or herself with ease, due to lack of use. secondary bilingual someone whose second language has been added to a first language via instruction. sernibilingual same as receptive bilingual. semilingual someone with insufficient knowledge of either language. simultaneous bilingual someone whose two languages are present from the Onset of speech. subordinate bilingual someone who exhibits-interference in his or her language usage by reducing the patterns of the second language to those of the first. subtractive bilingual someone whose second language is acquired at the expenSe of the aptitudes already acquired in the first language. successive bilingual someune whose seCOnd language is added at some stage after the first has begun to develop. symmetrical bilingual same as balanced bilingual. vertical bilingual someone who is bilingual in a standard language and a distinct but related language or dialect. as a child at home and then later acquire another, majority language in the community or at school. Over time, the second language may become the stronger or dominant language. If that person moves away from the neighbourhood or area where the minority language is spoken, or loses contact with those who speak it, he or she may lose fluency in the minority language. Should bilingualism therefore be a relative term? The word ‘bilingual’ primarily describes someone with the possession of two languages. It can, however, also be taken to include the many people in the world who have varying degrees of proficiency in and interchangeably use three, four or even more languages. In many cauntries of Africa and Asia, several languages co—exist and large sections of the population speak three or more languages. Individual multilingualism in these countries is a fact of life. Many people speak 8 LI WE} one or more local or ethnic languages, as well as another indigenous language which has become the medium of communication between different ethnic groups or speech communities. Such individuals may also speak a foreign lan— guage — such as English, French or Spanish H which has been introduced into the community during the process of colonisation. This latter language is often the language of education, bureaucracy and privilege. Multilingualism can also be the possession of individuals who do not live within a multilingual country or speech community. Families can be trilinguai when the husband and wife each speak a different language as well as the common language of the place of residence. People with sufficient social and educational advantages can learn a second, third or fourth language at school or university, at work or in leisure time. In many continental European countries, children learn two languages at school — such as English, German or French — as well as being fluent in their home language a such as Danish, Dutch or Luxembourgish. It is important to recognise that a multilingual speaker uses different lan— guages for different purposes and does not typically possess the same level or type of proficiency in each language. In Morocco, for instance, a native speaker of Berber may also be fluent in colloquial Moroccan Arabic, but not be literate in either of these languages. This Berber speaker will be educated in modern standard Arabic and use that language for writing and formal purposes. Clas- sical Arabic is the language of the mosque, used for prayers and reading the Qur’an. Many Moroccans also have some knowledge of French, the former colonial language {for further discussion, see Bentahila, 1983). What’s in a language? The above discussions of the causes of language contact and types of bilingual or multilingual people presuppose a definition of language. But what exactly is a language? This question has troubled linguists for decades. One way of thinking about language is as a systematic combination of smaller units into larger units to create meaning. For example, we combine the sounds of our language (phonemes) to form meaningful words (lexical items) and we do so according to the rules of the language we speak. Those lexical items can be combined to make meaningful structures (sentences) according to the syntactic rule of our language. Language is hence a rule-governed system. Many linguists have devoted their lives to the scientific study of the rules that govern our language. However, this kind of approach only works in a general, abstract way. As soon as we focus on a specific language of a specific speech community, we find ..___.—,........,..:_ N. q. ..=-,.__.._.._._,. DIMENSIONS OF BILINGUALISM 9 that many other factors, mostly non—linguistic, have to be considered. For instance, when we want to work out the rules of English, we need to have some kind of agreement as to what English refers to. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines English as ‘the language of England’. What then is the language spoken by a large number of people in Australia, Canada, South Africa and the USA? What is the language spoken by people from Adelaide, Houston or Liverpool? Questions such as these have led some linguists to suggest that the notion of ‘language’ is essentially a social one in the sense that it is defined in terms of the people who speak it, and that as people vary in terms of their social character— istics — such as age, gender, place of origin and ethnicity — the language they speak will have various manifestations. Traditionally, linguists make a distinction between ‘Ianguage’ and ‘dialect’, based on two criteria: size and prestige (for a more detailed discussion, see Hudson, 19% (1980): Chapter 2). A language is believed to be larger than a dialect. That is, a variety called a language would contain more items than one called a dialect. In this sense we may refer to English as a language, containing the sum total of all the terms in all its dialects, such as Texan English and Yorkshire English. A language is also thought to have prestige which a dialect lacks. English as a language, for example, is supported institutionally through schools and the mass media; however, Appalachian and Geordie are not, and are hence often classified as dialects. However, the two criteria of size and prestige sometimes contradict each other in distinguishing language and dialect. For example, the so-called ‘standard English’ must be a dialect if we consider its size only, as it does not contain items from many other varieties of English. Yet standard English has far more prestige than other English dialects because its use is encouraged in formal contexts. It should therefore be regarded not as a dialect but a language. In fact, standard English, or any standard language, is a result of a direct and deliberate, and in some cases prolonged, intervention by society. This intervention — known as ‘standardisation’ h produces a standard language where before there were just dialects. There are many counter—examples for the language and dialect distinction based on size and prestige. For instance, Luxembourgish is a language according to the constitution of Luxembourg, but linguistically it is a Rhennish dialect. Philipino is a language in the process of corpus building, but it is unclear whether it is bigger than Tagalog or llocano or any other Philippine languagesi dialects. There are some very prestigious ‘dialects’ which may also be supported institutionally. For example, the European Charter of Minority Languages of the Council of Europe gives institutional support to a number of what used to be called dialects across the European Union. 10 LI WEI One obvious candidate for an extra Criterion for distinguishing language and dialect is that of mutual i'nteii‘igi'bii'i'ty. If the speakers of two linguistic varieties can understand each other, then the varieties concerned are dialects of the same language; otherwise they are separate languages. This is a widely used criterion. However, it cannot be taken seriously because there are a number of problems with its application. First, even popular usage does not correspond consistently to this criterion. There are varieties which we as lay people call different languages but which are tutually intelligible — such as Danish, Norwegian and Swedish ~ and varieties which we call dialects of the same language but which may not be mutually intelligible; for exampie, the so—called dialects of Chinese {see Figure 0.1 for an ‘llustrationt Popular usage tends to reflect a prestige—based definition of anguage. if two varieties are both standard languages, or are subordinate to different standards, they must be different languages and, conversely, if they are both subordinate to the same standard, they are considered as the same anguage. Second, mutual intelligibility is a matter of degree, ranging from total intel— igibility down to total unintelligibility. How high up on the intelligibility scale do two varieties need to be in order to count as members of the same language? U nfortunately the answer to this question must be arbitrary. Third, mutual intelligibility is not really a relationship between linguistic varieties, but betWeen people, since it is they, and not the linguistic varieties, that understand one another. This being so, the degree of mutual intelligibility depends not just on the amount of overlap between the linguistic items in the two varieties, but also on the perceptions of the people concerned. For instance, how much does speaker X want to understand speaker Y? How much experience have they had of the variety to which they are listening? And how strongly do they want to identify themselves as speakers of the same language? Another popular way of delimiting languages is by the names they have. All the ‘major’ languages of the world have a single name which translates neatly into other languages, such as Arabic, Engiish, French, German, Russian and Spanish. if we want to refer to a particular variety of these languages, we can simply attach a place name; f0r instance, Moroccan Arabic, Australian English and Puerto Rican Spanish. Dialects, on the other hand, tend not to have a proper name or at least tend not to have one that is easily translatable into other languages. For example, many communities in efrica have no specific names for their languages. The names they use are the same as a common word or phrase in the language, such as the word for ‘our language“ or ‘our people’. The various English names for the Chinese dialects a such as Mandarin and Cantonese — are virtually unknown to native speakers of these varieties, and the London dialect, i i. i E: 1. i DIMENSIONS OF BILXNGUALISM 11 I 1 . A . . Type Community Mutually Intelligihle Community A Common cultural history B guage W American eg. British ne—fl—r—m— Same Ian EngliSh English Type 2 Community Mutually unintelligible Community A Different cultural history [-3 e.g. English ~—~——-*-——“— Different languages -———-—-——-—'* Hindi Type 3 Community Mutually intelligible Community A *- Diiferent cultural history B ‘ W“ Danish eg. Norwegian W ? 4 v . Type Community Mutually unintelligble Community A Same cultural history B —«—~—-—-—"—"’—" Hakka 4__.~—-—--—- ? e.g. Cantonese (Chinese) (Chinese) 5 . . . Type Community Partially iunhntelligible A I'd-Overlapping cultural history —-___—_' bek h«-—-—v-—‘—*—“‘_? U2 Community B e.g.Turkis Figure 0.1 Five types of relationship between language and dialect Source: adapted from Crystal, 199? (1987): 289. Cockney would be known as the ‘clialect of London’ to speakers of French, German, Chinese and Japanese, rather than by its name. It is also as common to find a community whose language has numerous names as it is to have the same name applied to two different languages. Sometimes speakers from different backgrounds disagree as to which language they are speaking or if the varieties they are speaking are related at all. To complicate the matter even ‘mixed languages’ whose sources are further, there are what have been called diverse and sometimes unknown (e.g. 12 LI WEI Bakker and Mous, 1994). They are, as the linguists who study them point out, not pldgins or creoles, nor relexified languages. While a large amount of borrowing and mixing can be traced in them, they do not fit into any of the models of bilingual speech. They did not have names, until linguists provided them. They are a product of contacts between people and a symbol of an emerging social identity. So there is no simple answer to the question ‘what is a language“. There is no pure linguistic definition of a language, nor is there a real distinction to be drawn between language and dialect. Language is a social notion; it cannot be defined without reference to its speakers and the context of its use. Language boundaries are boundaries between groups of people, as language contacts are contacts between people. Thus, language is not simply a system of sounds, words and sentences. Language also has a social function, both as a means of communication and as a way of identifying social groups. Language as a socio-political issue In many countries of the world a lot of the social identification is accompiished through language choice. By choosing one or other of the two or more languages in one’s linguistic repertoire, a speaker reveals and defines his or her social relationships with other people. At a societal level, whole groups of people and, in fact, entire nations can be identified by the language or languages they use. Language, together with culture, religion and history, becomes a major component of national identity. Multilingual countries are often thought to have certain problems which monolingual states do not (see Fasold, 1984: Chapter 1; Edwards, 1994). On the practical level, difficulties in communication within a country can act as an impediment to commerce and industry. More seriously, however, multilingualism is a problem for government. The process of governing requires communication both within the governing institutions and between the government and the people. This means that a language, or languages, must be selected as the lan- guage for use in governing. However, the selection of the ‘official language’ is not always easy, as it is not simply a pragmatic issue. For example, on pragmatic grounds, the best immediate choice for the language of government in a newly independent colony might be the old colonial language, since the colonial govern- ing institutions and records are already in place in that language, and those nationals with the most government experience already know it. The old colonial language will not, however, be a good choice on nationalist grounds. For a people which has just acquired its own geographical territory, the language of the state which had denied it territorial control would not be a desirable candidate for a 3:: til it; i“- i 1.7.».- ~_—-.—v_—r- g-Wh;'_\-""' DIMENSIONS OF BILINGUALISM 13 national symbol. Ireland has adopted a strategy whereby both the national lan- guage, Irish, and the language of the deposed power, English, are declared as official; the colonial language is used for immediate, practical purposes while the national language is promoted and developed. However, in many other multi- lingual countries which do not have a colonial past, such as China, deciding which language should be selected as the national language can sometimes lead to internal, ethnic conflicts. Similarly, selecting a language for education in a multilingual country is often problematic. In some respects, the best strategy for language in education is to use the various ethnic languages. After all, these are the languages the children already speak, and school instruction can begin immediately without waiting until the children learn the official language. Some would argue, how- ever, that this strategy could be damaging for nation—building efforts and dis- advantage children by limiting their access to the wider world. It should be pointed out that there is no scientific evidence to show that multilingual countries are particularly disadvantaged, in socio—economic terms, compared to monolingual ones. In fact, all the research that was carried out in the 19605 and 19705 on the relationship between the linguistic diversity and economic well—being of a nation came to the conclusion that a country can have any degree of language uniformity or fragmentation and still be underdeveloped; and a country whose entire population speaks the same language can be anyw where from very rich to very poor. It might be true that linguistic uniformity and economic development reinforce each other; in other words, economic well-being promotes the reduction of linguistic diversity. It would, however, be too one- sided,to say the least,to view multilingualism as the cause of the socio-economic problems of a nation (Coulmas, 1992). Multilingualism is an important resource at both the societal and personal levels. For a linguistically diverse country to maintain the ethnic-group lan- guages alongside the national or official language(s) can prove to be an effective way to motivate individuals while unifying the nation. Additionally, a multi» ethnic society is arguably a richer, more exciting and stimulating place to live in than a community with only one dominant ethnic group. For the multilingual speaker, the availability of various languages in the community repertoire serves as a useful interactional resource. Typically, multi— lingual societies tend to assign different roles to different languages; one lan- guage may be used in informal contexts with family and friends, while another for the more formal situations of work, education and government. Imagine two friends who are both bilingual in the same ‘home’ and ‘official’ languages. Suppose that one of them also works for the local government and that her friend has some official business with her. Suppose further that the government 14 LI WEI employee has two pieces of advice to give to her friend: one based on her official status as a government representative, and one based on their mutual friend ship. If the official advice is given in the ‘government’ language and the friendly advice in the ‘home’ language, there is little chance that there would be any misunderstanding about which advice was which. The friend would not take the advice given in the ‘home’ language as official (for specific examples, see Chapter 5). There is a frequent debate in countries where various languages co—exist concerning which languages are a resource. The favoured languages tend to be those that are both international and particularly valuable in international trade. A lower plaCe is given in the status ranking to minority languages which are small, regional and of less perceived value in the international marketplace. For example, French has traditionally been the number one modern language in the British school Curriculum, followed by German and Spanish, and then a choice between Italian, Modern Greek and Portuguese. One may notice that all of these are European languages. Despite large numbers of mother-tongue Bengali, Cantonese, Gujarati, Hakka, Hindi, Punjabi, Turkish and Urdu speakers, these languages occupy a very low position in the school curriculum. In the British National Curriculum, the languages Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin], Gujarati, Modern Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish and Urdu are initially only allowed in secondary schools (for 11 to 18 year olds) if a major European language such as French is taught first (Milroy and Milroy,1985). Clearly, multilingualism as a national and personal resource requires care- ful planning, as w0u|d any other kind of resource. However, language planning has something that other kinds of economic planning do not usually have: lan- guage has its own unique cultural symbolic value. As has been discussed earlier, ianguage is a major component of the identity of a nation and an individual. Often, strong emotions are evoked when talking about a certain language. Lan- guage planning is not simply a matter of standardising or modernising a corpus of linguistic materials, nor is it a reassignment of functions and status. It is also about power and influence. The dominance of some languages and the domi— nated status of other languages is partly understandable if we examine who are in positions of power and influence, who belong to elite groups that are in control of decision—making, and who are in subordinate groups, upon whom decisions are implemented. It is more often than not the case that a given arrangement of languages benefits only those who have influence and privileges (Kaplan and Baldauf, 1997}. For the multilingual speaker, language choice is not only an effective means of communication but also an act of identity (Le Page and Tabouret—Keiler, ".'—-T’1Nw~v'?"'_' L DIMENSIONS OF BILINGUALISM 15 1985). Every time we say something in one language when we might just as easily have said it in another, we are reconnecting with people, situations and power configurations from our history of past interactions and imprinting on that history our attitudes towards the people and languages concerned. Through language choice, we maintain and change ethnic group boundaries and personal relationships, and construct and define ‘self’ and ‘other’ within a broader political economy and historical context. What does it mean to be a bilingual?- A frequently asked question is whether a bilingual speaker’s brain functions differently from that of a monolingual’s brain. A more technical way of asking the question is whether language is differently organised and processed in the brain of a bilingual compared with the monolingual. In the majority of right—handed adults, the left hemisphere of the brain is dominant for language processing. There is some evidence to suggest that second language acquisition, especially adult second language acquisition, involves the right hemisphere more than first language acquisition in language processing. As proficiency in a sec— ond language grows, right hemisphere involvement decreases and left hemi— sphere involvement increases. However, quantitative analyses of the existing data often show that the left hemisphere strongly dominates language process— ing for both monolinguals and bilinguals, and that differences between them are the exception rather than the rule. Bilinguals do not seem to vary from monolinguals in neurological processes,- the lateralisation of language in the brains of the two groups of speakers is similar (see Chapters 14 and 15). A related issue concerns the mental representation of a bilingual’s two languages and the processing emanating from such representation. Evidence exists for both separate storage and shared storage of the two languages in the bilingual’s brain, resulting in the suggestion that bilinguals have a language store for each of their two languages and a more general conceptual store. There are strong, direct interconnecting channels between each of these three separate stores. The interconnections between the two languages comprise association and translation systems, and common images in the conceptual store act as mediators. Furthermore, speakers of different proficiency levels or at different acquisitional stages vary in the strength and directness of the interconnections between the separate stores in language processing; for instance, those who are highly proficient in two languages may go directly from a concept to the target language, while those whose second language is weaker than their first tend to use the first language to mediate (see Chapters 17 and 18). Although the more general definitions of bilingualism would include people 16 Li WEI who understand a second language — in either spoken or written form or both — but do not necessarily speak or write it, a more common usage of the term refers to someone who can function in both languages in conversational interaction. We have already mentioned that bilingual speakers choose to use their different languages depending on a variety of factors, including the type of person addressed (e.g. members of the family, school-mates, colleagues, superiors, friends, shop—keepers, officials, transport personnel, neighbours), the subject matter of the conversation (e.g. family concerns, schoolwork, politics, enter- tainment), location or social setting leg. at home, in the street, in church, in the office, having lunch, attending a lecture, negotiating business deals), and rela- tionship with the addressee te.g. kin, neighbours, colleagues, superior—inferior, strangers). However, even more complex are the many cases when a bilingual talks to another bilingual with the same linguistic background and changes from one language to another in the course of conversation. This is what is known as code—switching. Figure 0.2 illustrates a decision—making process of the bilingual speaker in language choice and code-switching, There is a widespread impression that bilingual speakers code-switch because they cannot express themselves adequately in one language. This may be true to some extent when a bilingual is momentarily lost for words in one of his or her languages. However, code—switching is an ex akes many forms. A long narrative may be divided into among bilinguals and t fferent languages; sentences may begin different parts which are expressed in di in one language and finish in another; guages may succee bilingual speaking to / \ monolingual bilinguai . l . language /w|” use\ /Wm use\ choice L1 L2 L1 L2 with without with without code- code~ code— code— code- Switching switching switching switching switching Figure 0.2 Language choice and code—switching Source: adapted from Grosjean, 1982: 129. tremely common practice words and phrases from different lan- d each other. Linguists have devoted much attention to the DIMENSIONS OF BILINGUALISM 17 study of code—switching. It has been demonstrated that code-switching involves skilled manipulation of overlapping sections of two (or more) grammars and that there is virtually no instance of ungrammatical combination of ton lan— guages in code-switching, regardless of the bilingual ability of the speaker. Some suggest that code—switching is itself a discrete mode of speaking emanatin from a single code-switching grammar. I 9 One important aspect of the code-switching grammar is that the two Ian— guages involved do not play the same role in sentence making. Typically one language sets the grammatical framework, with the other providing certain items to fit into the framework. Code-switching therefore is not a simple combination of two sets of grammatical rules but grammatical integration of one language in another. Bilingual speakers of different proficiency levels in their two languages or speaking two typologically different languages can engage in code—switching and indeed vary it according to their needs (see Chapters 9, 10 and 11). The possible existence of a code-switching grammar calls into question the traditional view of the bilingual as two monolinguals in one person (for further discussions, see Grosjean, 1985). One consequence of the ‘two—in-one’ perspec- tive is that bilingual speakers are often compared to monolinguals in terms of their language proficiency. For example, some researchers have suggested that bilingual children had smaller vocabularies and less developed grammars than their monolingual peers, while their ability to exploit the similarities and differences in two sets of grammatical rules to accompiish rule—governed code— switching was not considered relevant. in some experimental psycholinguistic studies, tests are given without taking into account that bilingual speakers may have learnt their two languages under different conditions for different pur- poses, and they only use them in different situatiOns with different people. It is important to emphasise that bilingual speakers have a unique linguistic and psychological profile; their two languages are constantly in different states of activation; they are able to call upon their linguistic knowledge and resources according to the context and adapt their behaviour to the task in hand. In addition to the social use of code—switching, some bilinguals regularly change-their speech production from one language to another in their profes- SIonal life. IntErpreters and translators, for example, switch between languages as a routine part of their job. They typically do so by reiterating in one language a message which was originaliy in a different language, either in the oral or written mode. They also tend to operate at the sentence level, rather than mixing two languages within sentences. Often we think of professional interpreters and translators as special people with highly developed language skills in each of their languages. In fact, even they are rarely perfectly balanced in two lan- guages. More often than not, interpreters use one language activeiy and with 18 L] WEI greater ease than the other which they understand perfectly but in which their ' production is weaker. They are trained to translate from the ‘passive’ to the ‘active’ language. They are also trained to think rapidly of appropriate wording I of ideas and produce words from a restricted area of meaning. Another group of bilinguals engage themselves in cross—modality language ' production. This is the case with speech—sign bilinguals who, in addition to the oral modality, use the manual—visual modality in everyday communication. They are special in one aspect, i.e. the two different modalities allow for the simul— taneous production of the two languages. In other words, one can speak and sign at the same time. Research has shown that such simultaneous bi—modal production is typically exemplified by the use of lexical items from both lan- guages but only one set of grammatical rules which is usually from the spoken I language. At the end of the twentieth century we know relatively little about how the two linguistic systems interact in the language production and process- ing of speech—sign bilinguals (for a review of existing studies of sign bilingual- ism, see Dufour, 1997}. Indeed, much more work needs to be undertaken before we can fully appreciate the complexity of the language behaviour of bilinguals generally. Changes in attitudes towards bilingualism From the early nineteenth century to about the 19605, there was a widespread belief that bilingualism has a detrimental effect on a human being’s intellectual and spiritual growth. Stories of children who persisted in speaking two Ian- guages in school having had their mouths washed with soap and water or being beaten with a cane were not uncommon. The following is a quote from a profes- sor at Cambridge University which illustrates the dominant belief of the time, even among academics and intellectuals: If it were possible for a child to live in two languages at once equally well, so much the worse. His intellectual and spiritual growth would not thereby be doubled, but halved. Unity of mind and character would have great difficulty in asserting itself in such circumstances. (Laurie, 1890: 15) This view of Professor Laurie represented a commonly held belief through the twentieth century that bilingualism disadvantages rather than advantages one’s intellectual development. The early research on bilingualism and cognition tended to confirm this negative view point, finding that monolinguais were superior to bilinguals on intelligence tests. One of the most widely cited studies it i: DIMENSIONS OF BILINGUALISM 19 was done by Saer (1923) who studied 1,400 Welsh—English bilingual children between the ages of seven and 14 in five rural and two urban areas of Wales. A 10-point difference in IQ was found between the bilinguals and the monolingual English speakers from rural backgrounds. From this Saer concluded that bilinguals were mentally confused and at a disadvantage in intelligence com— pared with monolinguals. It was further suggested, with a follow-up study of university students, that ‘the difference in mental ability as revealed by intelli- gence tests is of a permanent nature since it persists in students throughout their university career’ (1924: 53). Controversies regarding the early versions of IQ tests and the definition and measurement of intelligence aside, there were a number of problems with Saer’s study and its conclusions. First, it appeared to be only in the rural areas that the correlation between bilingualism and lower IQ held. In urban areas monolin- guals and bilinguals were virtually the same; in fact the average IQ for urban Welsh—English bilingual children in Saer’s study was 100, whereas for mono- lingual English—speaking children it was 99. The urban bilingual children had more contact with Engiish both before beginning school and outside school hours than did the rural bilinguals. Thus the depressed scores of the rural population were probably more a reflection of lack of opportunity and contexts to use English and were not necessarily indicative of any socio-psychological problems. _ More important, however, is the issue of statistical inference in this and other studies of a similar type. Correlations do not allow us to infer cause and effect relationships, particuiarly when other variables — such as rural versus urban differences w may be mediating factors. Another major factor is the language in which such tests were administered, particularly tests of verbal intelligence. Many such studies measured bilinguals only in the second or nonwdominant language. At around the same time as Saer conducted studies on bilinguals“ intelli- gence, some well—known linguists expreSSed their doubts about bilingual speakers’ linguistic competence. The following is Bloomfield’s characterisation of a Menomini Indian man in the US who he believed to have ‘deficient’ know ledge of Menomini and English: White Thunder, a man around 40, Speaks less English than Meno- mini, and that is a strong indictment, for his Menomini is atrocious. His vocabulary is small, his inflections are often barbarous, he con- structs sentences of a few threadbare models. He may be said to speak no language tolerably. (Bloomfield, 1927: 395) 2O LI WEI This is one of the early statements of a view which became fashionable in educational circles; namely, that it was possible for bilinguals not to acquire full competence in any of the languages they spoke. Such an individual was said to be ’semilingual’. They were believed to have linguistic deficits in six areas of language (see Hansegard,1975; Skutnabb-Kangas, 1981): Size of vocabulary; Correctness of language; Unconscious processing of language; Language creation; Mastery of the functions of language; Meanings and imagery. O‘Ulb‘oJNl—J It is significant that the term ‘semilingualism’ emerged in connection with the study of language skills of people belonging to ethnic minority groups. Research which provided evidence in support of the notion of ‘semilingualism’ was conducted in Scandinavia and North America and was concerned with accounting for the educational outcomes of submersion programmes where minority children were taught through the medium of the majority language. However, these studies, like the ones conducted by Saer, had serious method- ological flaws and the conclusions reached by the researchers were misguided. a First, the educational tests which were used to measure language proficiencies and to differentiate between people were insensitive to the qualitative aspects of languages and to the great range of language competences. Language may be specific to a context; a person may be competent in some contexts but not in others. 0 Second, bilingual children are still in the process of developing their languages. It is unfair to compare them to some idealised adults. Their language skills change over time. 0 Third, the comparison with monolinguals is also unfair. It is important to distinguish if bilinguals are ‘naturally’ qualitatively and quantitatively different from monolinguals in their use of the two languages, i.e. as a function of being bilingual. . Fourth, if languages are relatively underdeveloped, the origins may not be in bilingualism per se, but in the economic, political and social conditions that evoke under—development. The disparaging and belittling overtone of the term ‘semilingualism’ itself invokes expectations of under-achievement in the bilingual speaker. Thus, rather i p. DIMENSIONS OF BILINGUALISN’I 21 than highlighting the apparent ‘deficits’ of bilingual speakers, the more positive approach is to emphasise that, when suitable conditions are provided, languages are easily capable of development beyond the ‘semi’ state (for a critical analysis of the notion of semilingualism, see Martin-Jones and Romaine, 1986). One of the specific issues Bloomfield raised in his comments on the language behaviour of members of the Menomini Indians in North America was the fre- quent mixing of their own language and English. It has been described as ‘verbal salad’, not particularly appealing but nevertheless harmless, or ‘garbage’ which is definitively worthless and vulgar. Unfortunately, although switching and mix- ing of languages occurs in practically all bilingual communities and all bilingual speakers’ speech, it is stigmatised as an illegitimate mode of communication, even sometimes by the bilingual speakers themselves. Haugen (1977: 97), for example, reports that a visitor from Norway made the following comment on the speech of the Norwegians in the United States: ‘Strictly speaking, it is no lan- guage whatever, but a gruesome mixture of Norwegian and English, and often one does not know whether to take it humorously or seriously’. Gumperz (1982: 62*3) reports that some bilingual speakers who mixed languages regularly still believe such behaviour was ‘bad manners’ or a sign of ‘lack of education or improper control of language’. One of the Punjabi—English bilinguals Romaine interviewed said: ‘I’m guilty as well in the sense that We speak English more and more and then what happens is that when you speak your own language you get two or three English words in each sentence but I think that’s wrong’ (Romaine, 1995 (1989): 294). Attitudes do not, of course, remain constant over time. At a personal level, changes in attitudes may occur when there is some personal reward involved. Speakers of minority languages will be more motivated to maintain and use their languages if they prove to be useful in increasing their employability or social mobility. In some cases, certain jobs are reserved for bilingual speakers only. At the societal level, attitudes towards bilingualism change when the political ideology changes. In California and elsewhere in the south-western United States, for instance, pocho and cafe used to serve as pejorative terms for the Spanish of local Chicanos. With a rise in ethnic consciousness, how— ever, these speech styles have become symbolic of Chicano ethnicity and are now increasingly used in contemporary Chicano literature. Since the 19605, there has been a political movement, particularly in the US, advocating language rights. In the US, questions about language rights are widely discussed, not only in college classrooms and language communities but also in government and federal legislatures. Language rights have a history of being tested in US courtrooms. From the early 19205 to the present, there has been a continuous debate in US courts of law regarding the legal status of 22 L1 WEI language minority rights. To gain short—term protection and a medium—term guarantee for minority languages, legal challenges have become an important part of the language rights movement. The legal battles concerned not just minority language vs. maj0rity language contests, but also children vs. schools, parents vs. school boards, state vs. the federal authorities, etc. Whereas minority language activists among the Basques in Spain and the Welsh in Britain have been taken to court by the central government for their actions, US minority language activists have taken the central and regional government to court. The language rights movement has received some support from organisa- tions such as the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the European Union, Each of these four organisations has declared that minority language groups have the right to maintain their languages. In the European Union, a directive (77l486/E EC) stated that member states should promote the teaching of the mother tongue and the culture of the country of origin in the education of migrant workers’ children. The kind of rights, apart from language rights, that minority groups may claim include: protection, membership of their ethnic group and separate existence, nondiscrimination and equal treatment, education and information in their ethnic language, freedom to worship, free— dom of belief, freedom of movement, employment, peaceful assembly and association, political representation and involvement, and administrative autonomy. However, real changes in attitudes towards bilingualism will not happen until people recognise, or better still experience, the advantages of being bilingual. Current research suggests that there are at least eight overlapping and interacting benefits for a bilingual person, encompassing communicative, cogni— tive and cultural advantages (adapted from Baker and Prys Jones, 1998: 6—8): Communicative advantages 1 Relationships with parents: Where parents have differing first languages, the advantage of children becoming bilingual is that they will be able to communicate in each parent’s preferred language. This may enable a subtler, finer texture of relationship with the parent. Alternatively they will be able to communicate with parents in one language and with their friends and within the community in a different language. 2 Extended family relationships: Being a bilingual allows someone to bridge the generations. When grandparents, uncles, aunts and other relatives in another region speak a language that is different from the local language, the monolingual may be unable to communicate with them. The bilingual has the chance to bridge that generation gap, build closer relationships .. ..__. ..."._... ~.-... ,....._.__~5,..g.,...,,w...,m.,._wfl.._9¢-rv'r'-"'f" w- - :.~ ...-:-..v- . ‘.‘ .. :.':. - - DIMENSIONS OF BILINGUALISM 23 with relatives and feel a sense of belonging and rootedness within the extended family. 3 Community relationships: A bilingual has the chance to communicate with a wider variety of people than a monolingual. Bilingual children will be able to communicate in the wider community and with school and neighbourhood friends in different languages when necessary. 4 Transnational communication: One barrier between nations and ethnic groups tends to be language. Language is sometimes a barrier to com— munication and to creating friendly relationships of mutual respect. Bilinguals in the home, in the community and in society have the potential for lowering such barriers. Bilinguals can act as bridges within the nuclear and extended family, within the community and across societies. 5 Language sensitivity: Being able to move between two languages may lead to more sensitivity in communication. Because bilinguals are constantly monitoring which language to use in different situations, they may be more attuned to the communicative needs of those with whom they talk. Research suggests that bilinguals may be more empathic towards listen~ ers’ needs in communication. When meeting those who do not speak their language particularly well, bilinguals may be more patient listeners than monolinguals. Cuitural advantages e Another advantage of being a bilingual is having two or more worlds of experience. Billnguaiism provides the opportunity to experience two or more cultures. The monolingual may experience a variety of cultures; for example, from different neighbours and communities that use the same language but have different ways of life. The monolingual can also travel to neighbouring countries and experience other cultures as a passwe onloolter. However, to penetrate different cultures requires the language of that Culture. To participate and become involved in the core of a culture requires a knowledge of the language of that culture. 7 There are also potential economic advantages to being bilingual. A person with two languages may have a wider portfolio of jobs available. As eco— nomic trade barriers fall, as international relationships become closer, as unions and partnerships across nations become more widespread, an increasing number of jobs are likely to require a person to be bilingual or multilingual. Jobs in multinational companies, jobs selling and exporting, and employment prospects generated by transnational contact make the future of employment more versatile for bilinguals than monolinguals. 24 LI WEI Cognitive advantages 8 More recent research has shown that bilinguals may have some advan— tages in thinking, ranging from creative thinking to faster progress in early cognitive development and greater sensitivity in communication. For example, bilinguals may have two or more words for each object and idea; sometimes corresponding words in different languages have different con- notations. Bilinguals are able to extend the range of meanings, associ- ations and images, and to think more flexibly and creatively. Therefore, a bilingual has the possibility of more awareness of language and more fluency, flexibility and elaboration in thinking than a monolingual. It would be misleading to suggest that there is no disadvantage to bilingual- ism. Some problems, both social and individual, may be falser attributed to bilingualism. Fer instance, when bilingual children exhibit language or personal- ity problems, bilingualism is sometimes blamed. Problems of social unrest may unfairly be attributed to the presence of two or more languages in a community. However, the real possible disadvantages of bilingualism tend to be temporary. For example, bilingual families may be spending significantly more of their time and making much greater efforts to maintain two languages and bring up children bilingually. Some bilingual children may find it difficult to cope with the school curriculum in either language for a short period of time. However, these are challenges that bilingual people have to face. The individual, cognitive, social, cultural, intellectual and economic advantages bilingualism brings to a person make all the efforts worthwhile. A more complex problem associated with bilingualism is the question of identity of a bilingual. If a child has both a French and an English parent and speaks each language fluently, is he or she French, English or Anglo-French? ifa child speaks English and a minority language such as Welsh, is he or she Welsh, English, British, European or what? It has to be said that for many bilingual people, identity is not a problem. While speaking two languages, they are reso— lutely identified with one ethnic or cultural group. For example, many bilinguals in Wales see themselves as Welsh first, possibly British next but not English. Others, however, find identity a real, problematic issue. Some immigrants, for instance, desperately want to lose the identity of their native country and become assimilated and identified with the new home country, while some others want to develop a new identity and feel more comfortable with being culturally hyphenated, such as Chinese—American, Italian—Australian, Swedish—Finn or Anglo—French. Yet identity Crises and conflicts are never static. Identities change and evolve over time, with varying experiences, interactions and collaborations within and outside a language group. DIMENSIONS OF BILINGUALISM 25 Bilingualism is not a static and unitary phenomenon. It is shaped in differ- ent ways, and it changes depending on a variety of historical, cultural, political, economic, environmental, linguistic, psychological and other factors. People’s attitudes towards bilingualism will also change as the society progresses and as our understanding of bilingual speakers‘ knowledge and skills grows. However, one thing is certain: more and more people in the world will become bilinguals, and bilingualism will stay as long as humankind walks the earth. .28 2:55.53 mm.an quma 3 C <<£ r030: mag 22: 5% ...
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