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Lecture 8

Lecture 8 Readings

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Craig Chambers

Bilingual Communities Readings for Week 10 Introduction - Bilingual communities exist throughout the world, wherever members of different ethnic groups meet, interact, and exchange ideas - Contact between speakers of different languages have diverse linguistic and societal consequences - Exposure to different languages may lead bilingual speakers gradually to incorporate new linguistic material into their primary languages Cognitive Benefits of Bilingualism - Bilingualism confers some advantages to learning beyond the knowledge of language itself - Bilinguals need to control their two languages in order to access data from their target language and at the same time avoid interference from their second language o Relies on cognitive control functions or executive functions o Defined as mechanisms involved in conflict monitoring, planning, attentional control, and the suppression (inhibition) of habitual responses - Bilingual infants were more adaptable in their cognitive processing and were unable to learn to redirect their gaze - Because a bilingual’s two languages are both active when speaking or listening to either one, they need to rely on cognitive executive functions to keep their two lanagues separate and to prevent interference - Advantages accruing to bilinguals increased with age (also exhibit a slower rate of loss) Linguistic Change - Languages change as a result of influences from other linguistic systems - French influence on English grammar occurs in some comparative and superlative adjectival constructions o Old English employed the suffixes –er and –est s in fair/fairer/fairest. Modeing on French plus (“more”) and le plus (“most”) is reflected in sets like beautiful/more beautiful/most beautiful - Syntactic change is another possible result of linguistic contact - Borrowing foreign words is the most widespread result of linguistic and cultural contact - In some cases, foreign words whose meanings are similar to native words are borrowed, but each takes on specialize usage - Foreign influences sometimes result in contrasting stylistic uses for native or borrowed words - Processes of linguistic change can be easily and abundantly demonstrated in all languages of the world, although the locus and extent of modification vary depending on duration, context, and intensity of contact between speakers of different languages Language Use in Bilingual Communities - In bilingual or multilingual communities, language ideologies may develop that privilege particular languages, granting them social value and legitimacy while at the same time marginalizing other languages - An ethnography of communication almong bilinguals includes analysis of their choice of language in various speech events o Factors such as context, participant, topic, and goal influence bilinguals’ decisions - Diglossia refers to situations where each language is systematically employed in certain domains or events - A high language is used in public arenas, such as school, church, and government o It has a long literary tradition and may be linked to prestigeful social groups - A low language is used in private or informal domains with family and friends o It have less social prestige than the high variety, but it is often associated with strong emotional loyalty and can be used to signal ingroup membership - Four contextual factors influence a bilingual’s choice of code: location of interaction, degree of formality, degree of intimacy, and seriousness of discourse - A lingua franca is a language that is used by non-native speakers wen interacting with speakers of different codes o It enables members of diverse ethnic and linguistic groups to communicate with one another - An official language that is spoken only by a minority will produce a wealthy few whilst a language shared by many should ensure greater productivity and fairer distribution of a country’s economic, political, and intellectual resources - A language can contribute to nation building in several ways o National identity is fostered by the
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