As a social and an individual
• Almost everyone has at least some
knowledge of another language.
• Some people have excellent command of
• There is a continuum from una cerveza
más, por favor to native like competency
Other issues in defining bilingual
• Skill in one domain may not translate to
skill in another (pronunciation, reading,
• 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
• 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.
• South Africa: 11 official languages (5
most common are IsiZulu (23%), Isixhosa
(18%), Afrikaans (14.5%), Sepedi (9%),
and English (8.5%)
• India: 15 languages classified as major
languages, some 387 in total.
• Kenya has some 61 languages
• Papua New Guinea has some 823
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
• Aphasia: Stroke victims with left
hemisphere lesions may experience
– both languages impaired.
– one language impaired, other unaffected.
– one language recovers quickly, the other lags
• How do bilinguals effect language choice?
– Maintain use of one language (L1 or L2)
– Switch between languages
(grammatical and SYSTEM
Levelt's speech production model
• Who are the interlocutors? What are their
• How well does the speaker control both
• What is the purpose/topic of the
• 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
• one system or two?
[cat] [gato] [cat] [gato]
• one system more efficient than having to
(de)activate whole systems.
• one system better accounts for rapid
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
• 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
• 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
• 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
‘We’re just the same as our parents.
• Maar dat is toch weer köy, hè.
‘But that is again backwardish, boorish
L2 words may express emotional value, or a
more precise concept.
• Eh, Mom, ¿cómo se come la eggplant?
• No tienen miedo a la vida, you know?
They risk their life on anything.
• A: Cada día se lleva su coffe pot upstairs.
B: ¿Y qué 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
– less likely between sentence and subordinate
– least likely within a PP, or between subject
• 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
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
• there is no hard evidence that children
with mixed input acquire their languages
• children don’t 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
• 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
• 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. Guaraní)
• 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
• 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,
– 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)