Full Text

bilingualism

VJC


Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214823.1999.x


Extract

The starting-point is the meaning of the term bilingual and its derivatives. In popular speech a bilingual is undoubtedly seen as a person who speaks two languages equally well; so-and-so is bilingual in French and English means that they use the two languages with equal ease. Nevertheless, even in non-technical usage, bilingual is sometimes more restricted. Advertisements for bilingual secretaries seem to require an ability to use the second language for professional purposes alone; those for bilingual teachers often require the ability to teach non-English-speaking children rather than knowledge of a second language. One group of academic definitions of bilingual echoes this ideal of equal knowledge or ‘balanced’ bilingualism, for example, Bloom-field's definition of bilingualism as ‘native-like control of two languages’, perhaps less ambiguously christened ambilingualism by Halliday, MacIntosh and Strevens (1964). These bilinguals have as extensive control of their second language as of their first. This is often called a ‘maximal’ definition of bilingualism. The opposing group of definitions is based on the idea of use; Haugen claims that bilingualism starts at ‘the point where a speaker can first produce complete meaningful utterances in the other language’. A tourist who successfully gets a cup of coffee in Germany by saying Ein Kaffee is bilingual, as is a schoolchild ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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