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Bilingualism is a natural phenomenon worldwide

Bilingualism is a natural phenomenon worldwide. Unwittingly, however, monolingualism has been used as a standard to characterize and define bilingualism and multilingualism in linguistic research. Such a conception led to a “fractional” “irregular” and “distorted” view of bilingualism, which is becoming rapidly outmoded in the light of multipronged, rapidly growing interdisciplinary research. Other central concepts such as individuals” bilingual language attitudes, language choices, and consequences are addressed, which set bilinguals apart from monolinguals. Language acquisition is as much an innate, biological, as social phenomenon.

Political bilingualism refers to the language policies of a country. Unlike individual bilingualism, categories such as monolingual, bilingual, and multilingual nations do not reflect the actual linguistic situation in a particular country (Edwards, 2004/2006; Romaine, 1989/1995). Hong Kong, for instance, is officially recognized as a bilingual country. This means that Hong Kong promotes bilingualism as a language policy of the country as well as in its society as a whole. English and Chinese are official languages. By no means does it imply that most speakers in Hong Kong are bilinguals. In fact, monolingual countries may reflect a high degree of bilingualism. Multilingual countries such as South Africa, Switzerland, Finland and Canada often use one of the two approaches—“Personality” and “Territorial”—to ensure bilingualism. The Personality principle aims to preserve individual rights (Extra & Gorter, 2008) while the Territorial principle ensures bilingualism or multilingual within a particular area to a variable degree, as in the case of Belgium. In India, where 23 languages are officially recognized, the government’s language policies are very receptive to multilingualism. The “three-language formula” is the official language policy of the country (Annamalai, 2001). In addition to learning Hindi and English, the co-national languages, school children can learn a third language spoken within or outside their state.

To my personal opinion, bilinguals can move between one or more language models as required for the production, comprehension, and processing of verbal messages in a most cost-effective and efficient way. Bilingualism is a natural phenomenon worldwide. Unwittingly, however, monolingualism has been used as a standard to characterize and define bilingualism and multilingualism in linguistic research. Such a conception led to a “fractional” “irregular” and “distorted” view of bilingualism, which is becoming rapidly outmoded in the light of multipronged, rapidly growing interdisciplinary research. Other central concepts such as individuals” bilingual language attitudes, language choices, and consequences are addressed, which set bilinguals apart from monolinguals. Language acquisition is as much an innate, biological, as social phenomenon.

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