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Studying language and linguistics through a plurilingual lens

Issue: Vol 13 No. 3 (2017) Special Issue: Free Linguistics Proceedings 2016

Journal: Linguistics and the Human Sciences

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/lhs.32307


While scholarship about language has had a monolingual bias for much of its recent history, this paper represents an initial attempt to shift the study of language and linguistics to a plurilingual lens. That is, past and current scholars assume that the global default is monolingualism and frame their hypotheses and theories from that monolingual worldview, yet bilingualism and plurilingualism are widespread and becoming more common with the global movement in acquiring English. This article attempts to take the first steps in addressing the gap of a plurilinguistic perspective in research and other scholarship by reframing linguistic questions as viewed though a plurilingual lens regardless of the theoretical framework. What can we learn from research both within our field and from other disciplines on bilinguals and plurilinguals regarding what human language is? For example, taking plurilingual as the norm necessitates treating translanguaging, code switching, and code stumbling as basic language use. How does a plurilingual lens affect our representation of grammar(s)? How does it affect our notions of language? Finally, how does it affect our understanding of the human capacity for acquiring languages?

Author: Leslie Barratt

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