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As a social and an individual


Defining Bilingual
Almost everyone has at least some
knowledge of another language.
Some people have excellent command of
both languages.
There is a continuum from una cerveza
ms, por favor to native like competency

Other issues in defining bilingual

Skill in one domain may not translate to
skill in another (pronunciation, reading,
writing, etc.)
Sociolinguistic competence: knowing
styles, registers, discourse customs
Domains of language use:
family, friendship, religion, employment,
education, hobbies, politics, law/government,

Domains of language use

politics, government, law

Bilinguals are rarely equally competent in

both languages to discuss all domains of
To what extent should context be taken
into account?
What is the ultimate value of having a
consistent definition of what it means to be

How common is bilingualism?

Worldwide there are ca. 5,500 languages,
and ca 192 countries in the world = 29
times more languages than countries!
San Diego City Schools (SD Unified) has
some 60 languages besides English
spoken as a primary home language.
28.4% of SD Unified students are
classified as English learners.

Other countries
South Africa: 11 official languages (5 most
common are IsiZulu (23%), Isixhosa (18%),
Afrikaans (14.5%), Sepedi (9%), and English
India: 15 languages classified as major
languages, some 387 in total.
Kenya has some 61 languages
Papua New Guinea has some 823 languages

Is the bilingual brain different?

Where are the different languages stored?
Is there a single, overarching grammar, or
are there sub-divisions?
Brain regions: stimulation to left
hemisphere language areas causes
deficits to both languages, but in some
areas one language may be more affected
than another.

bilingual brain
Aphasia: Stroke victims with left
hemisphere lesions may experience
different effects:
both languages impaired.
one language impaired, other unaffected.
one language recovers quickly, the other lags

Bilingual Processing
How do bilinguals effect language choice?
Maintain use of one language (L1 or L2)
Switch between languages

discourse, etc.


(grammatical and





Levelt's speech production model

the model
Situational Knowledge
Who are the interlocutors? What are their
language abilities?
How well does the speaker control both
What is the purpose/topic of the

Other components
conceptualizer: formulation of a preverbal
message, the output consists of all the
information needed by the formulator to
convert the communicative intention into
formulator: converts preverbal message into
a speech plan, selecting lexical items and
phonological sequence.
articulator: converts the speech plan into
instructions for actual speech

Adapting the model to bilinguals

Several factors must be taken into account
when adapting this model to account for
bilingual speech behavior.
L2 knowledge is typically incomplete (there
are typically fewer words & rules available
to the speaker).
L2 speech is less automatic, more attention
has to be paid to execution.
L2 speech carries a trace of L1

What does the bilingual lexicon

look like?
one system or two?





one system more efficient than having to

(de)activate whole systems.
one system better accounts for rapid switches

Maintaining the same language:

the Subset Hypothesis
words, syntactic rules, phonemes from a
given language form a subset of the total
Each subset can be activated independently.
Subsets are formed and maintained by the
use of words in specific contexts.
In monolinguals subsets may be formed for
different styles and registers.

Switching: Differential activation

Searching the lexicon does not necessarily
target or activate just one meaning.
Context of language use may make some
meanings more available than others.
Some features of the preverbal message
may be more important than others. Many
features of concepts may overlap. Context
may promote or demote some features in

other considerations
Even highly proficient bilinguals need more
time to retrieve words (up to 150 ms). the
Non-native speaker has to balance the
need for speed (2-5 words per second)
with other communicative goals.
Language cues from the conceptualizer
may exceed capabilities of the L2

Aside: speed of processing

Passive vocabulary of a first year university
student? maybe 75,000 words?
Active lexicon considerably smaller, at
maybe 30,000 words.
Average rate of speech is about 150 words
per minute (peak ca 300 wpm)
200-400 ms to choose a word when we
speak (wrong choice made maybe 1/1000)

Reasons for Code switching?

a meaningful discourse strategy
word or phrase has no straightforward
equivalent in LX.
domain of language use

result from a lack of knowledge.

Some examples of code switching

Wij zijn gewoon hetzelfde als babamiz
Were just the same as our parents.
Maar dat is toch weer ky, h.
But that is again backwardish, boorish

L2 words may express emotional value, or a

more precise concept.

Eh, Mom, cmo se come la eggplant?

No tienen miedo a la vida, you know?
They risk their life on anything.
A: Cada da se lleva su coffe pot upstairs.
B: Y qu tiene que me lleve mi coffe pot

Code Switching sites

Selection of lexical items: conceptual
mismatch between concept and word in LX
may cause choice of another word or
phrase from another language.
Structural sites:
most common between coordinated sentences.
less likely between sentence and subordinate
least likely within a PP, or between subject and

Childhood bilingualism
Raising bilingual children.
What factors influence childhood
How do kids keep their languages
Does bilingualism have any cognitive

Raising bilingual children

Children who begin acquiring a second
language by the age of about 7 years tend
to acquire native-like grammatical
competency, given sufficient L2 input.
Acquisition setting, amount of input, etc.
generally lead to one language becoming
the dominant one.
One parent, one language a typical
approach, but

Important factors to consider

Amount and type of input.
who is the primary care giver?
how much input does each parent give?
what other languages is the child exposed to?

Interaction or separation of the two

in what domains does the child encounter L2?
what is the status of L1/L2 in society?

Important factors to consider

social and psychological factors.
prestige of the languages being learned.
institutional support.
social value of bilingualism.
cultural affinity.
relationship to parents/care givers.
extent to which parents languages are
present in the community.

Keeping languages separate

Dominant model for raising bilingual
children is one parent, one language.
People who report using this strategy,
however, often mix languages (interaction
with community, with spouse, extended
family, teachers, etc.)
Parents languages may play less of a role
in traditional societies, industrial societies.

limitations to one parent, one

strict separation of languages not always
feasible, nor is it always a natural way of
using language.
there is no hard evidence that children with
mixed input acquire their languages any
children dont rely (only) on parental cues,
but rely on UG to perform tacit structural
analyses of syntax, phonology, etc.

Stages of acquisition
Bilingual children seem to have separate
grammars by the age of 2-2;6
Bilingual children seem to undergo the
same stages of acquisition as monolingual
children (babbling, 1 word, 2 word,
multiword stages, morpheme order,
vocabulary development [including 18
month explosion)

Cognitive effects?
Results of studies are mixed, though there
are some claims:
increases cognitive flexibility?
easier to engage in abstract thought?
facilitates development of reading skills?
higher sensitivity to word form as distinct from
word meaning?

Simultaneous use of 2 (or more) language
varieties in distinct social domains within
the same speech community.
The languages may be related (Classical
vs. colloquial Arabic, High German vs.
Swiss German), or they may be unrelated
(Spanish vs. Guaran)

Language Functions
Typically, the H variety in a diglossic situation
is perceived to be
more logical
more elegant

The H variety is usually also standardized

(formal grammars, classroom instruction)
Acquired later
Typically has a literary heritage

Functions of
H variety used in more formal situations:
political speeches
university lecture
news broadcasts
newspaper editorial
most poetry and literature

Functions of L
L variety used in more personal settings:
instructions to waiters, servants, workmen
conversations with family, friends
folk literature (fairy tales, folk tales, songs, light
soap operas, talk shows

Use of L in inappropriate situations can be a

serious social gaffe.


German-speaking countries
Arabic-speaking countries
Tanzania (vernacular, Swahili, English)