Language Contact and Bilingualism
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The varieties of New Englishes have gone through major interference from the first language of its speakers. These varieties are found in former British colonies. It is clear that political entities such as the European Union can only encourage multilingualism. The search for a feeling of unity has always been associated with a common language. The use of a national language has been promoted through various policies, ranging from educational to sociocultural.
By speaking of bilingualism and multilingualism, we automatically speak of a political pact: of two or more nations or cultures living at peace with each other, of collaboration. As Anderson [ 6 ] has taught us, a nation is, after all, an imagined community, created through common culture, values, and interests. Before the European Union, we could establish an identity between country, culture, and language. Every country was associated with a unique language. Each European citizen should understand at least two languages other than the mother tongue.
This requires awareness that democratic structures only exist on the surface layer as social networks are dictated by the few who own them. If we examine the history of those territories, we see that this attitude toward language has to do with their colonization. Areas where two ethnicities live together usually have two languages, such as in Romanian cities like Oradea, where both Romanian and Hungarian are spoken, or in Mulhouse, where both German and French are spoken.
Areas located close to a border also often use more than one language. Language is always part of a certain cultural identity and of the symbols and practices associated with nationalism and patriotism. In some official bilingual areas, some persons can refuse to answer in a language that they do not consider to be their own.
This raises the issues of cultural and political tensions in areas where two cultures are supposed to coexist peacefully. By recognizing two or more official languages in a territory, we recognize the strong impact of past historical events, such as conquests. In its turn, the use of a certain language indicates the belonging of someone to a certain culture and cultural identity. Using two different languages can raise the issue of belonging to two different cultures, which can have an impact on personal identity. The novels by Hanif Kureishi — , for example, feature characters who are half-Indian and half-British and often explore these themes.
The same identity issues often affect immigrants, who come from cultures and speak languages other than those of the country in which they now live.
On the other hand, promoting a certain culture requires promoting its language. We find ourselves drawn by exotic languages, such as Japanese, whose cultures we wish to discover. Through the inclusion of Spanish dramas in Romanian television programs, the respective language and culture are promoted. Learning different languages is an aspect of politics, and it is done through various manifestations: through wars and physical, armed conflict, or imposed through culture. Historical events cause languages to come into contact, as the result of invasion, colonization, annexation, resettlement, etc.
One such example is that of migrants in our contemporary world. This situation applies both to refugees and to other persons who leave their own country to find temporary work or to emigrate entirely. They have no other choice but to come into contact with another language and culture; they will need to adapt and learn the language of the country.
They may join communities of their own people, if there are any in the respective country, but often, in order to find better conditions for life and work, they will need to adopt the language of the country they have moved to. Whole populations may be forced to move due to natural disasters and find themselves faced with new languages. Religious issues can also cause people to move to other countries and deal with other languages. Religious oppression can cause people to leave the respective country and move to another country and then they will have to learn the language of the new country.
The main issue, however, remains the economic aspect that triggers migration in search for better living conditions. Nowadays, the movement from one country to another has become possible due to many reasons.
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One such example is the politics related to migration, which has been allowed among countries in Europe. When poor countries join the European Union, this allows their citizens, Romanians, for example, to move to work and live in other European countries with better economic situations. The freedom to move across Europe allows citizens to feel equal with one another, as this sort of migration is so common that it has become almost a lifestyle in our contemporary world. Media advertising of classes focused on foreign languages and cultures, some even given free online, has advertised this lifestyle as something usual nowadays.
In the past, moving to another country was a more isolated phenomenon and the person felt alone in the process; nowadays, the cultural shock is minimized through all the information made available worldwide and for free on the Internet.
Even traveling has become something very usual as it has become simpler than it was in the past. We get lots of advertisements praising the reduced prices for flights and hotels. The plane has become, through low cost offers, a very common means of transportation. Working abroad has become something common, especially for citizens of poorer countries of the EU, such as Romania. Regional and minority languages were included in the strategy. They recognised the need to widen the range of languages offered in the education system. In what way do these movements influence languages?
Varieties of New English, such as Malaysian English, Philippine English, Indian English, and others, borrow ways of pronunciation, grammar structures, and words from the languages spoken natively in Malaysia, the Philippines, and India. Even English as lingua franca in European countries has led to borrowings; young people especially use English words and expressions mixed into discussions in their mother language. IT terms are often borrowed from English, but so are terms that already exist in the other languages. Countries such as Hungary use their language only, avoiding borrowing at all costs; they go as far as translating proper names belonging to other nations into Hungarian.
Bilingualism and Multilingualism from a Socio-Psychological Perspective
The current discourse on bilingualism and multilingualism reflects the political issues of the time and the political situation in various countries. We speak of language policies, of requiring that certain languages be studied in schools. In Romanian schools, minority students have the chance to study the mother tongue of their ethnic group instead of Romanian literature and culture. Such a practice shows that they are accepted and not forcibly assimilated by the culture of the country they live in. However, they also need to speak Romanian as they need to communicate with people belonging to this culture.
Belgium is another example. It is a federal state, divided into three regions: the Flemish where Dutch is used , the bilingual region which is bilingual , and the Walloon region where French and German are used. Immigrants and refugees are often multilingual, due to their living in multiethnic home countries as well as having to learn the language of the country they moved to [ 1 ], p.
The trend of multilingualism has affected all aspects of our lifestyle, on- and off-line. Of course, there is the case of the European Union, discussed by Sokol [ 11 ]. The English language strives to be a common language of understanding among different countries in the European Union. Brexit [ 13 ], when Great Britain voted to leave the European Union, affected the translation industry in Great Britain.
However, despite these claims, Brexit does not represent any danger: free movement in Europe will continue, and English will still be the lingua franca for a good number of years at least. There could be in fact an advantage to Brexit: more interpreters and translators will be needed, in case English will no longer be the lingua franca. Since once the majority uses English as a lingua franca, there is no need for many translators and interpreters.
Once English is no longer a lingua franca, other languages will be needed, and more interpreters and translators, as once Romanian is your native language and you can use no lingua franca, an interpreter will be needed to help you understand someone who speaks Spanish. The interpreter will need to use Romanian; otherwise, he would have had to use English, the lingua franca, and not be forced to know Romanian.
While multilingualism allows for opportunities for the flourishing of the translation industry, there is also a search for a lingua franca. For certain countries, it is English. In the case of immigrants, the lingua franca becomes the language of the country they have migrated to, as they need to communicate with the inhabitants of the respective country.
In any country, there can also be immigrants of other nations, and they may need to establish business communication with them as well. In every country, there is one, but often more, official language s , constituting the majority language, and there are also languages spoken by minorities, which can be official languages or not. They are nonetheless languages of identity and heritage, and in this sense can and should be considered mother tongues. These are endangered languages that need to be protected. The heritage speakers will also have to learn the standard, official language of the country they live in and they will be at least bilingual.
The theories showing the importance and benefits of being bilingual encourage learning at least one additional language.