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Bilingualism and Multilingualism

The modern study of bilingualism dates back to the early 1900s, as linguists began to take interest in the language development of bilingual children. Despite considerable research effort ever since, there is no unified definition of bilingualism. Indeed, it has been proposed that bilingualism raises a fundamental challenge for linguistics as an academic discipline. The most basic reason for this is that research on bilingualism has been persistently informed by a monolingual perspective, where theoretical conceptualisations and analytical interpretations begin with the idea that humans are born with a hard-wired mental device for acquiring a first language. Accordingly, the production of speech and other forms of language use by bilingual individuals is unquestionably compared with, and assessed against, the language production of an idealised native, ...

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