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ability to use two languages. Fluency in a second language requires skills in listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing, although in practice some of those skills are often considerably less developed than others. Few bilinguals are equally proficient in both languages. However, even when one language is dominant (see language acquisitionlanguage acquisition,
the process of learning a native or a second language. The acquisition of native languages is studied primarily by developmental psychologists and psycholinguists.
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), performance in the other language may be superior in certain situations—e.g., someone generally stronger in Russian than in English may find it easier to talk about baseball in English. Native speakers of two languages are sometimes called equilingual, or ambilingual, if their mastery of both languages is equal. Some bilinguals are persons who were reared by parents who each spoke a different language or who spoke a language different from the one used in school. In some countries, especially those with two or more official languages, schools encourage bilinguilism by requiring intensive study of a second language. Bilinguals sometimes exhibit code-switching, or switching from one language to the other in the middle of a conversation or even the same sentence; it may be triggered by the use of a word that is similar in both languages.


See G. Saunders, Bilingual Children (1988); K. Hyltenstam and L. K. Obler, ed., Bilingualism Across the Lifespan (1989).



one person’s or group’s fluent command of and ability to use two different languages or two dialects of one language (for example, a local dialect and the literary language). Mass bilingualism occurs in history as the result of conquests, peaceful migration of peoples, and contacts between neighboring groups speaking different languages.

In bilingualism, the degree of fluency in each language, the ways in which the various spheres of communication are distributed between the languages, and the attitudes of the speakers to them depend on many factors in the social, economic, political, and cultural life of the group concerned. When there is a conflict between two languages, one may completely supplant the other (as, for example, Spanish and Portuguese “have replaced the Indian languages in Latin America), or a new mixed language may be created (for example, French, which developed from Latin and local Celtic dialects), or both languages may undergo certain changes in various aspects of the language structure. Phonetically there may be changes in the characteristics of pronunciation—for example, Ossetic, which belongs to the Iranian group of languages, has borrowed phonetic characteristics from the Dagestanian languages spoken around it. Grammatical phenomena may be borrowed or copied—for example, Russian has borrowed the participial construction of the old Slavonic language Yaroslav. Especially in terms of vocabulary, words are borrowed and copied—English, for example, borrowed French vocabulary when French was the official language in England.


Shcherba, L. “Ocherednye problemy iazykovedeniia.” In his book Izbrannye raboty po iazykoznaniiu ifonetike, vol. 1. Leningrad, 1958.
Bloomfield, L. lazyk. Moscow, 1968. (Translated from English.)
Vendryés, G. lazyk. Moscow, 1937. (Translated from French.)
Weinreich, U. Languages in Contact. New York, 1953.


References in periodicals archive ?
Rather, the province's linguistic regime is founded on two distinct, though complementary, principles--institutional bilingualism and linguistic duality--that seek to ensure the right of every New Brunswicker to be unilingual.
The Conference will also celebrate the lifetime work of Prof Colin Baker of the School of Education at Bangor University, who has established an international reputation for his research and contribution to bilingualism.
What effect will bilingualism have on my child's intelligence?
Concerning age, the findings on the so-called bilingual advantage in such EFs are still controversial, and we perceived a lack of studies on the effects of bilingualism regarding middle-aged adults, as compared to the considerably high number of studies and robust findings on the bilingual advantage among other age groups, such as children and elderly people.
As mentioned briefly above, scholars of bilingualism now recognise that a perfect command of two languages is a rare and unrealistic phenomenon, and that bilinguals' linguistic repertoire is a unique configuration of their two languages that, together, fulfil all their communicative needs (Garcia, 2009; Grosjean, 1982, 1999).
Based on our observation and data collection, we note that bilingualism across the two modalities is very common in Arnhem Land.
She added, however, that "there are still advantages to be found from late bilingualism.
The B and B Commission is among the most influential of Canada's royal commissions, as evidenced by its policy impacts and the ways in which its discourses around bilingualism and multiculturalism have become part of the national self-conception and governing framework.
For the purpose of the present study, bilingualism is defined as the regular use of a second language for at least five years, and a perceived skill level of advanced.
According to a new study, bilingualism can help delay cognitive decline and brain diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
This week: How the decline of bilingualism and the redistribution of seats could be a volatile political mix.
Nobody can deny that bilingualism is beneficial for every child's development and their future.