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What is Bilingualism?
Bilingualism is a sociolinguistic phenomenon that has received much scholarly attention, not only because of its importance in communications but also because of political and demographic considerations that have led many sociologists to brand some languages as major and others as minor in multiliguistic settings. This classification forces African languages into subordinate positions on the grounds that only a few of them have been codified, and fewer still are used in instruction; hence the superiority of European
in Cameroon, where the term bilingualism immediately brings to mind a mastery of English and French. In this wise, handling the topic bilingualism becomes a difficult task to the African mind as it has to grapple with the decision whether or not to consider local tongues in the study.
On the other hand, the definition of the term has also been a subject of much debate. The dimension of this debate is clearly shown by two definitions which could best be considered as being polarized: while Bloomfield defines bilingualism as a native like control of two languages , Diebold gives a minimal definition when he uses the term incipient bilingualism to mean the initial stages of contact between two languages . These two definitions imply that we are forced, in studying bilingualism, to consider it as something entirely relative because the point at which the leaner of a second language becomes bilingual is either arbitrary or difficult to determine.
It goes without saying that sociolinguists are interested in all languages. In addition, speakers of a particular speech community are always made up of many groups; with the speech of the members of each group reflecting their age, place of origin, professional interests, and educational background, among others. This renders it difficult for one speaker to internalize all the variants; thus the difficulty in determining how perfect language use by a speaker is. It is on the basis of these two considerations that in its attempt to discuss the notion of bilingualism, this paper will include both local and foreign languages; and consider
as the alternate use of two languages.
To understand the process of bilingualism, it should first be understood that human beings inherit the ability to speak, though they do not inherit the ability to speak a particular language. A child therefore learns to speak the language of those who bring it up from infancy. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica points out that these, in most cases, are its biological parents, especially the mother. But one s first language is acquired from the environment and learning. Adopted infants, whatever their race and whatever the language of their actual parents, acquire the language of the adoptive parents who raise them just as if they had their own children.
The learning of a second and any subsequently acquired language is quite a different matter. Except in case where the child s parents / foster parents are bilingual, or from different linguistic backgrounds, learning a second language becomes either a deliberate activity or one imposed on the child by extraneous social, political or religious factors acting on him.
Aunes Oversettelser AS has been in the business for 26 years, and we are specialized in technical translations. We are specializing in the Nordic languages, and can offer services into Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Icelandic. The premier translation agency for Norway and the Nordic region! Technical translation services for businesses in the Nordic countries and translation agencies world-wide.
Aunes Oversettelser AS
has been in the business for 26 years, and we are specialized in technical translations. We are specializing in the Nordic languages, and can offer services into Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Icelandic. The premier translation agency for Norway and the Nordic region! Technical translation services for businesses in the Nordic countries and translation agencies world wide.
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