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Defining the Phenomenon of BilingualismBearbeiten

For some it might seem odd or superfluous to provide a long-suffering and extensive definition of the phenomenon of bilingualism, since most people probably know at least person they consider to be bilingual. Providing such a definition might appear to be an easy task and not very challenging at all. If asked to describe what bilingualism is, most people have an idea of its characteristics and of who they consider to be bilingual. Some might claim a speaker to be bilingual if he or she has the ability to communicate in two languages fluently. Others might consider native-like proficiency in a language other than one’s mother tongue to be among the key criteria that make up bilingualism.

As soon as one decides to examine the phenomenon of bilingualism it becomes apparent that such a thing like a widely accepted definition of bilingualism does not exist. It becomes obvious that instead of just one, there are numerous definitions out there. By taking a close look at the bilinguals in our personal environment most people probably soon realize that each one probably differs in one or more little aspects in their individual bilingualism if compared to other bilinguals. It becomes apparent that such thing as a homogenous group of bilinguals into which all these speakers neatly fit in, or can be grouped into, doesn’t exist. There is even a great chance that if people are asked to consider all bilinguals they know that there will not even be a perfect match among them. It is precisely because of the many little aspects in which they differ, doing a task like providing a definition of bilingualism is much more problematic as it may have appeared to be at first.

Diebold’s (1964, 469) approach, by adding the label ‘incipient bilingualism’, is describing a state of language usage where speakers don’t need to be actively producing utterances in both respective languages, i.e. children who are just in the very early phases of language development and, thus might just begin to understand their second language and therefore, neither actively apply it yet in terms of spoken language, nor do they have an adult-like usage or understanding of grammar rules. He claims passive knowledge in a second language to be sufficient enough to be regarded a bilingual. Diebold (1964), nevertheless, leaves the question unanswered of just how much is enough, not defining precisely the minimal degree of proficiency that is needed to be referred to by the label ‘incipient bilingual’.

Defining the Phenomenon of BilingualismBearbeiten

For some it might seem odd or superfluous to provide a long-suffering and extensive definition of the phenomenon of bilingualism, since most people probably know at least person they consider to be bilingual. Providing such a definition might appear to be an easy task and not very challenging at all. If asked to describe what bilingualism is, most people have an idea of its characteristics and of who they consider to be bilingual. Some might claim a speaker to be bilingual if he or she has the ability to communicate in two languages fluently. Others might consider native-like proficiency in a language other than one’s mother tongue to be among the key criteria that make up bilingualism.

As soon as one decides to examine the phenomenon of bilingualism it becomes apparent that such a thing like a widely accepted definition of bilingualism does not exist. It becomes obvious that instead of just one, there are numerous definitions out there. By taking a close look at the bilinguals in our personal environment most people probably soon realize that each one probably differs in one or more little aspects in their individual bilingualism if compared to other bilinguals. It becomes apparent that such thing as a homogenous group of bilinguals into which all these speakers neatly fit in, or can be grouped into, doesn’t exist. There is even a great chance that if people are asked to consider all bilinguals they know that there will not even be a perfect match among them. It is precisely because of the many little aspects in which they differ, doing a task like providing a definition of bilingualism is much more problematic as it may have appeared to be at first.



Dritter Artikelabschnitt. Vergiss nicht den Artikel in eine Kategorie einzuordnen, damit andere Benutzer ihn leichter finden können. CHIILDES Linguistics thesis

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