The vast majority of people living on our planet is multi-lingual, and not as commonly claimed, one or bilingual.(Breggo – Gupta 2013,36). In many parts of the world, people are naturally raised as one who use several languages on a daily basis, for example in multi-million India, where 234 languages are used or in Singapore, in which 4 official languages are used (Paradowski, Bator 2016). Due to the fact that multilingualism has become a global topic, there are many experts on the subject who deal with the issue of it, which leads to the fact that there are many different definitions, concepts and points of view on multilingualism.
1 What is multilingualism? – definition
The terminological knowledge of the concept of multilingualism seems to be complicated, it depends not only on linguistic factors, but also on socio-cultural, political, historical and other factors. In literature, we can find many widening definitions that characterize multilingualism based on different perspectives. Generally speaking, multilingualism can be understood as a social and individual phenomenon (Kemmeter, 1999, s. 53).
G.Richard Trucker (1994) defined multilingualism as the active or passive use of two or more languages by an individual or a social group. He also argued that he number of multilingual people in the world exceeds the number of people who speak only one language. This point of view shows that the concept of multilingualism can contain everything what goes beyond the knowledge of one language.(Kiermasz 2016). Multilingualism is recognized as a “kind of multiplied bilingualism”(Heugen 1956,s.9)|, which causes that the difference between bilingualism and multilingualism may be insignificant and the knowledge of two languages may be considered as a starting point to discussing concept of multilingualism.(Kiermasz 2016). There are
- “The process of acquiring several languages which are not mother tongues and the end result of such an absorption process” (Cenoz, Genesee, 1998, p. 2); ·
It can be seen that it is difficult to clearly and unequivocally define what multilingualism is, because it partially overlaps with the term bilingualism.(Kiermasz 2016). However, it is worth to mention, that multilingualism should be treated as a norm (Herdin, Jessner, 2002). Although bilingualism and multilingualism are often used interchangeably and considered synonyms (Szubko-Sitarek, 2015), their meaning may not necessarily be synonymous and depends on the definition used by a given author.
1.1. Key features of multilingualism.
The existence of multilingualism is not an unusual or unique phenomenon, but a natural potential available to every human being (Paradowski, 2010) : “Given the appropriate environment, two languages are as normal as two lungs” (Cook 2002:23).
Whereas ,King of Franks- Charlemagne , King of the Franks, claimed that “to have another language is to possess a second soul”. Also the latest researches may shed new light on benefits that flow from using many languages are not only connected with linguistic knowledge, but have meanings that go beyond the sphere of language.
Also psycholinguistics selects ways of learning foreign languages, developing linguistic competence from topics related to multilingualism e.g. with a focus on bilingual or multilingualism (Janik, 2016). Sociolinguistics also sees multilingualism by focusing on the different functions of different languages in some communities and the use of several languages in multilingual communication.” This is closely linked to code-switching”