Definitions, Aspects and Types
Leonard Bloom: Bilingualism means to have
“native-like control of two or more languages”.
Haugen: “Bilingualism begins when the speaker
of one language can produce meaningful
utterances in another language.”
Mackey: “Bilingualism is entirely relative, the
point at which a speaker of a second language
becomes bilingual is either arbitrary or
impossible to determine.”
 Degree
– how well does the bilingual know
each of the languages?
 Function – the uses a bilingual has for the
languages, do they have different roles?
 Alternation – the extent to which an
individual alternates between the two
 Interference – The extent to which the
individual manages to keep the languages
AGE: Early bilingualism, late bilingualism
CONTEXT: Natural bilingualism, secondary bilingualism
ACQUISITION: Coordinated bilingualism, subordinate
COMPETENCE: Maximalist/minimalist views,
bilingualism, compound
Coordinate bilingualism – learning the languages
in two separate environments where the words
are kept separate and each word has a specific
Compound bilingualism – learning the languages
in the same context, therefore there is a fused
representation of the languages in the brain.
Sub-coordinate bilingualism – where the learner
interprets words of his weaker language through
words of their stronger language.
The speaker must be able to master two
mother tongues equally well, as well as the
comparable monolingual speaker.
 Criterion
 Is
used by linguists.
it possible to know all the shades of
meaning of both languages?
 What
situations and/or domains are either
language used in?
 What
language does the individual think in?
 Which
language do they identify with?
Bertil Malmbeg:
“A bilingual is an individual who, in addition to his
mother tongue, has acquired from childhood onwards or
from an early age a second language by natural means (in
principle not by formal instruction), so that he has become
a fully competent member of the other linguistic
community within the sphere, the occupational or social
group, to which he naturally belongs.”
 Knowledge of a second language does not result in
 Bilingualism=natural bilingualism=complete bilingualism
Double semilingualism: Someone who falls short of the
monolingual norm in both of their languages.
 Societal
bilingualism (multilingualism)
denotes the characteristic linguistic
community, i.e. in a particular society or
nation, in which more than one language
is used.
 Historical
factors: invasion, political
marriages, immigration
 Contemporary factors: bilingual press and
administration, mass communication and
Natural Bilingualism: individual who has learnt
two languages without formal teaching in the
course of their everyday life as their natural
means of communication , and often learnt from
relatively young age.
 School Bilingualism: Learning a foreign language
by formal teaching without much opportunity to
use language as a natural means of
 Cultural Bilingualism: Adults who learn a foreign
language for work purposes.
 Elite
Bilingualism: a highly educated person
who has had part of their education in
another language and had the opportunity to
use the languages naturally.
 Folk Bilingualism: Those who are forced to
learn another language in a practical contact
with people who speak it.
 Romain,
S. Bilingualism
 Skutnabb-Kangas, T. Bilingualism or Not?
 Individual
linguistic item has its own unique
social distribution among circumstances of
 Social
restriction on items expressed in terms
of large scale varieties rather than item by
– ‘the uneven coexistence of 2
languages or varieties of language,
within a single community.’
– expanded this definition to
include unrelated languages as high
and low varieties
May be totally different language
May be a distinct but related version
May be an ancient version of the same language
Each does still have its own distinct vocabulary
and grammar
May be stable language situation – items all vary
together so can be generalised on a large scale
Not necessarily class-determined
Unequal arrangement of language varieties, but
not necessarily in competition for linguistic
Initial contact, minority status established
Increasing pressure on minority speakers to speak the
majority language, particularly in the formal domain
(this therefore is an example of diglossia)
Period of bilingualism: both language spoken
concurrently: firstly original language retained, new
language acquired, followed by recessive use of original
language, fewer fluent speakers, fewer functions
Replacement of minority language by majority
language. May take place over several generations.
Standard (High)
Standardised written
 Used in formal and
public domain
 High status
 Never conversational
Education, university
lectures, sermons,
public speeches,
news, literature
Vernacular (Low)
Spoken form
 Used in informal
situations with friends
and family
 Little prestige
 Can be virtually
Domestic interaction,
personal letters,
conversation, markets
 Bilingualism
and Diglossia: Everyone
understands both, definite roles established
 Diglossia without Bilingualism: In less
developed countries with social divide: each
group doesn’t fully understand each other
e.g. coloniser - colonised
 Bilingualism without Diglossia: Societies
with social unrest or change
 Neither Bilingualism nor Diglossia: Small,
isolated communities with no social
hierarchy or immigration. There will still be
some evolution of the language
 “Catalan
is the official language of
Catalonia, together with Castilian, the
official language of the Spanish State. All
persons have the right to use the two official
languages and citizens of Catalonia have the
right and the duty to know them.”
 Ley de Normalización Lingüística (1983)
 Ley de Política Lingüística (1998)
 Process
that is positive for Catalan.
 Higher % speaking to the eldest son or
daughter in Catalan than to the
 Catalan:
language of prestige.
 Promoted by Catalan people through the
State and their language planning.
 Catalonia represents a bilingual community.
 Basque
Autonomous Community (BAC) 1979:
Castilian and Basque share co-official status.
 Majority language of BAC is Castilian.
71% BAC
20% Navarre
9% The
 There
is some evidence to support the idea
that diglossia is present:
 Tendency to use Basque with family and
friends, in informal situations and to use
Castilian for more formal situations.
 Use of Basque varies greatly from region to
 Repression
of Basque under Franco and
 Influx of Castilian speaking immigrants.
 Drop in Basque speakers which in turn caused
prestige of Basque to drop.
Basque Country not diglossic but…
“fragmentary bilingualism with residual
diglossia” Jasone Cenoz
High rate of bilingualism.
 Promotion of Basque language:
Private schools in 1960s.
1982 & 1983 Laws
School Models, A,B and D.
 Prestige balance being established as Basque
prestige increases.
 2 important factors in the development of the
-The aging population
-Impact of immigration
 The
Basque Country leans to a more bilingual
community than diglossic.
 No. of bilingual speakers is constantly
 No very heavily weighted prestige given to
Castilian over Basque.
 Galicia
 Catalonia
 Basque
 The
Galician example is seen as the one that
mirrors diglossia the most within Spain.
 Galician is the language of preference,
especially in informal situations, whereas
Castilian tends to be used more formally.
 In Galicia – Galician seen as the low language
variety (vernacular) whereas Castilian seen
as the high variety (standard).
 Maybe
historically yet in modern-day
Catalonia Diglossia has, more or less, ceased
to exist.
 Within the region there are slight variations
yet there is a standardised form which
effectively prevents diglossia.
 Tends to be more associated with
bilingualism, as both castilian and catalan
are effectively shared, neither tends to be
significantly inferior to the other.
Basque Autonomous Region consists of 3 different
High rate of Bilingualism within the region.
Basque country is not an area associated with
Diglossia – the majority language of the region is
Essentially, there are not sufficient Basque speakers
in the region to label it Diglossic.
Basque tends to be used more informally – Castilian
in more academic spheres and in formal situations.
Historically, circumstances in the Basque country – for
instance repression, urbanisation and immigration
have been key factors in a move away from diglossia
in the region.
 In
the Spanish case, Galicia is really the only
accurate example of Diglossia.
 In the other two autonomous regions – it can
be argued that there is far less distinction
between Castilian and the minority language.

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