What is bilingualism ? - A short not on Bilingualism for the students of literature
If a speaker uses two languages in different situations depending upon the context, he is known as bilingual. Fisher defines bilingualism as " demonstrated ability to engage in communication via more than one language." Most of the Indians are bilinguals because they learn L2 ( Language 2 i.e. English Language ) from their school stage. English is the medium of instructions in almost all the schools and also in Colleges.
Everybody learns a language with a purpose. The L1 ( Language One i.e. mother tongue ) is acquired without any specific purpose in mind. There is no special training in the acquisition of Language 1. It comes as naturally to the learners as rain comes to the earth. It only requires exposure to that particular language but the L2 learning is something different from L1 acquisition.
The L2 is used in a particular situation such as in the working place like offices, schools, colleges, conferences, meetings, seminars etc. English Language is used and learnt as L2 in India. As is said earlier, it is used as a language of instruction, interviews and written exams for jobs.
Sometimes a bilingual speaker uses his knowledge of the second language for the creative writing. Khushwant Singh, Kamala Das etc were the bilingual writers. They used to write in two languages - in their mother tongue and also in English.
Sometimes bilingualism takes the form of lingua franka ( Common Language ). Languages such as English and Russian are a type of lingua franka because they are widely learnt as second languages. Bilingual speakers may also develop a special variety of language for use as a lingua franka. When any language becomes lingua franka in some region, the people also invent their own pronunciation as per the convenient of theirs.
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