What Did He Say?

Some tongue in cheek reflections on Jean Dujardin's bilingual acceptance speech at the Oscars.

Keeping a Language Alive

One of the languages we know may start waning for different reasons. But there are ways of keeping it alive, both in adults and in children.

Falling in Love With a Culture and a Language

Some people fall in love with a new culture and language. The way Julia Child discovered the French culture and language, and French cuisine—and became enamored with all three—is very moving.

The Linguistic and Cultural Skills of Sleeper Agents

Sleeper agents, that is spies who have been infiltrated into a target country, are very special bicultural bilinguals. They have to develop linguistic and cultural skills that are rarely required of regular bilinguals.

Two American Kids in a Small Swiss Village

One of the finest ways of acquiring a language is to go and live in a country or region where the language is used. This is what happened to two American kids when they came to live in a small Swiss village for a year.

Visualizing One's Languages

The defining factor of bilingualism has shifted over time from language fluency to language use. And yet both factors are important when portraying the languages of a bilingual or a multilingual. A new grid takes into account each factor and is easily filled in.

Becoming Bicultural: Celebrating Thanksgiving

When you come to live in a new country and begin the process of becoming bicultural, differences in the way people live, work and socialize are often quite visible. But other aspects, engrained in the host culture, are hidden, and you have to be introduced to them. Thanksgiving is a case in point.

Change of Language, Change of Personality?

There is a Czech proverb that says, "Learn a new language and get a new soul", and it is true that many bilinguals do indeed report being different in each of their languages. How can one explain this?

What Is It Like to Be Bilingual?

We all have an opinion about what it means to be bilingual even if we are not bilingual ourselves. Here we let bilinguals tell us about the many advantages - and a few of the inconveniences - of being bilingual.

Helen or Hélène?

When bilinguals interact among themselves, they sometimes intermingle their languages, either by code-switching or by borrowing. The latter process is fascinating not only because it occurs widely but also because it can have an interesting impact on language understanding.

Those Incredible Interpreters

We often take the work of interpreters for granted, and yet they are accomplishing one of the most difficult linguistic skills humans can undertake. They are special bilinguals par excellence.

Intermingling Languages in Children

When bilingual children intermingle their languages, the comments one overhears can be quite negative. And yet, there are very good reasons for their behavior. In addition, there are ways of helping them restrict language intermingling to bilingual situations.

Emotions in More than One Language

The language bilinguals express their emotions in is both a complex and a fascinating topic. There is a myth that they do so in their first language but there are many instances of this not being so. In the end, there seems to be no set rule.

Aging with Two or More Languages

Old age has an impact on language perception and production but it is no different in monolinguals and bilinguals. It would even appear that older bilinguals have a few cognitive benefits in their favor.

Why Aren't you Speaking the Right Language?

Monolinguals rarely have to worry that their interlocutor is not speaking the right language. But this can happen to bilinguals who find themselves in a situation where a non optimal language is being used by another bilingual. This may cause puzzlement and even distress.

Desperately Seeking a Final Translation

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair has gone through repeated twists and turns, one of which concerns translation. It is worth stepping back a bit to reflect on the art of translation and its link to bilingualism.

Who Am I?

Those people who are both bilingual and bicultural have to come to terms with their own identity. Reaching the point of accepting fully one's biculturalism can be for some a long and challenging process.

What are the Effects of Bilingualism?

Studies examining the effects of bilingualism tended to produce rather categorical findings in the last century. Today, it would appear that when differences are found between monolinguals and bilinguals, they are specific to a particular task and are rather subtle.

Refusing to Speak a Language

For many monolinguals, being bilingual and hence being able to know and use two or more languages in everyday life is seen as a real advantage. And yet some bilinguals, be they adults or children, refuse to speak one of their languages. Why is that?

Teaching and Living with Two or More Languages

Teachers of a second language belong to the "special bilinguals" category. They share many similarities with regular bilinguals but they are also characterized by a number of interesting differences. In addition, they help lay the foundations of interlingual and intercultural communication among their students.

How Cultures Combine and Blend in a Person

Many people are both bilingual and bicultural and yet we know much more about bilingualism than about biculturalism. This is unfortunate as biculturalism permeates every aspects of one's being and one's behavior.

Nurturing Bilingualism in Children

Even though many children "just become bilingual", an increasing number of families develop strategies to ensure that their children become bilingual. They also consciously nurture their children's languages over time.

Interacting in Just One Language

Researchers have long been interested in the way bilinguals manage to control the language they are speaking and keep out their other language(s). But how "language tight" is the process?

Sign Language and Bilingualism

Bilingualism in a sign language and an oral language, in its spoken or written modality, is relatively frequent but is still not fully accepted. Thus, children who are Deaf or hard of hearing are not systematically brought up knowing and using a sign language and an oral language.

Thinking and Dreaming in Two (or More) Languages

Bilinguals are often asked about the language(s) they think and dream in. When analyzing their answers, we must not forget that thinking and dreaming can also be independent of language.

Language Forgetting

Language forgetting is the flip side of language acquisition and it is just as interesting linguistically. Both adults and children forget languages but the latter do so much more rapidly.

The Person-Language Bond

Bilinguals often have a preferred language they use with bilinguals they know well. The language-person bond is particularly strong in very young bilingual children; it helps them acquire and differentiate their languages.

The Day the Supreme Court Ruled on the Bilingual Mind

The US Supreme Court is rarely asked to consider how the mind functions, let alone the bilingual mind. But it did so once in an intriguing case.

Bilinguals and Accents

There is a longstanding myth that real bilinguals have no accent in their different languages. In fact, having an accent in one or more languages is the norm for bilinguals; not having one is the exception.

Intermingling Languages: From Conversation to Literature

When interacting among themselves, bilinguals may well intermingle their languages. What may seem to be haphazard behavior is governed in reality by linguistic and social constraints, and is even used to literary ends by some bilingual authors.  

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