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Bilinguals & Bilingualism

Our definition includes people ranging from the migrant worker who speaks with some difficulty the host country's language (and who cannot read and write it) all the way to the professional interpreter who is totally fluent in two languages. In between we find the foreign spouse who interacts with friends in his first language, the scientist who reads and writes articles in a second language (but who rarely speaks it), the member of a linguistic minority who uses the minority language at home only and the majority language in all other domains of life, the Deaf person who uses sign language with her friends but a signed form of the spoken language with a hearing person, etc.  Despite the great diversity that exists between these people, all share a common feature: they lead their lives with two (or more) languages.


Bilinguals remind us that linguistic space is rather a continuum of Language (…) it is not only languages that cohabit in the same space but (…) also an accompanying process of (…) ‘mixing of cultures and world views’ that is inpenetrable to some, troubling to others’.

                                                                                                         (Brutt-Griffler & Varghese, 2004)



Brutt-Griffler, J. & Varghese M. (2004). Introduction. Special Issue: (Re)writing bilingualism and the bilingual educator’s knowledge base. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 7(2) & 7(3): 93-101.


Grosjean, F. (1982) : Life with Two Languages – An Introduction to Bilingualism, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, Harvard University Press.

Grosjean, F. (1996) Living with two languages and two cultures.  In Parasnis, I. (Ed.). Cultural and Language Diversity and the Deaf Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Grosjean, F. (2010) : Bilingual – Life and Reality, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, Harvard University Press., p.276.

Grosjean, F. (2015) : Parler plusieurs langues – Le monde des bilingues, Paris, Albin Michel, p. 229.