You are on page 1of 5


People who speak two languages are often called bilingual; people who speak more than two
languages are considered multilingual.
Sometimes entire nations are bilingual or multilingual.
Sometimes a language is chosen as a courtesy to others.
Bilingualism results from the imperatives (Chapter 2), as people move from one country to
another, as businesses expand into international markets, and so on.
More personal imperatives also drive people to become bilingual.
Learning another language is never easy, but the rewards of knowing another language are
Language acquisition studies have shown that it is nearly impossible for individuals to learn
the language of a group of people they dislike.
An interesting linguistic phenomenon known as interlanguage has implications for the
teaching and learning of other languages.
Interlanguage refers to a kind of communication that emerges when speakers of one
language are speaking in another language.
The native language’s semantics, syntactics, pragmatics, and phonetics often overlap into
the second language and create a third way of communicating.
Interlanguages typically contain elements of the speaker's original language.
For example, in Turkish an adjective appears before the noun it modifies, while in Romanian
the adjective usually comes after the noun.
Thus, an Turkish speaker learning Romanian who knows that the Romanian words for “green”
and “fish” are verde and peşte, respectively, might call a green fish “un verde peşte,” when
un pește verde is actually correct.
The interlanguage of a Romanian person learning Turkish might contain the opposite error,
causing him or her to say things like “bir balık yeşil”.
Translation and Interpretation
Because no one can learn all of the languages in the world, we must rely on translation and
interpretation—two distinct but important means of communicating across language
Translation generally refers to the process of producing a written text that refers to
something said or written in another language.
The original language text of a translation is called the source text; the text into which it is
translated is the target text.
Interpretation refers to the process of verbally expressing what is said or written in another

value. explains: “There is no way we could teach our children Japanese at home. It is not always appropriate to translate everything that one speaker is saying to another. who was born and raised in Canada and who later immigrated to the United States. . Translation is more than merely switching languages. The Role of the Translator or Interpreter We often assume that translators and interpreters are “invisible. . in exactly the same way. we discussed cultural identity and its complexities. with the interpreter speaking only during the breaks provided by the original speaker.Interpretation can either be simultaneous. The reverse may be true. however. or consecutive. One part of our cultural identity is tied to the language(s) that we speak. largely from linguistics. so you have to be aware of who you are. the condition of being equal meaning. We speak English. often regulate how they render the original. has been on comparing the translated meaning with the original meaning. however. . I love Japanese food. This slippage between languages is both aggravating and thrilling for translators and interpreters. I wish I could speak the language better. and so on. it also involves negotiating cultures. The relationship between language and culture becomes more complicated when we look at the complexity of cultural identities at home and abroad. Issues of Equivalency and Accuracy Some languages have tremendous flexibility in expression. . That is. Equivalency: An issue in translation. Sometimes I see Japanese groups enjoying themselves at karaoke bars . with the interpreter speaking at the same time as the original speaker. The roles that they play as intermediaries. I feel definitely Western. . .” . I love going to Japanese restaurants. the focus.” that they simply render into the target language whatever they hear or read. . Language and Cultural Group Identity Writer Henry Moritsugu (1992). It was more important to be accepted. for some topics. more so than Asian. But we look Asian. Translation studies traditionally have tended to emphasize issues of equivalency and accuracy. . It wasn’t a conscious effort that we did this. quantity. . . . LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY In the previous chapter. others have a limited range of words. because the potential for misunderstanding due to cultural differences might be too great.

very few Cameroonians speak both French and English. has three national languages (Dutch. and ideas can move easily around the globe. . and French). a heritage of Cameroon's colonial past as both a colony of the United Kingdom and France from 1916 to 1960. dialects. Other language policies are governed by location. and economics. LANGUAGE POLITICS AND POLICIES Nations can enact laws recognizing an official language. and many speak neither. The nation strives toward bilingualism.The ability to speak another language can be important in how people view their group membership. German. Italian. These policies often emerge from the politics of language use. English and French are official languages. Belgium. or even accents. such as Romanian in Romania or Turkish in Turkey. but in reality. rapid changes are being made in the languages spoken and learned. For example: in Cameroon. (2) to avoid accommodating others. ethnicity. Some nations have multiple official languages. products. and Romansh). for example. The languages we speak and the languages others think we should speak can create barriers in intercultural communication. culture. and Switzerland has four (French. There are different motivations behind the establishment of language policies that guide the status of different languages in a place. They do not develop as a result of any supposed quality of the language itself. Language policies are embedded in the politics of class. Sometimes nations decide on a national language as part of a process of driving people to assimilate into the national culture. LANGUAGE AND GLOBALIZATION In a world in which people. but the implementation is not equal. Laws or customs that determine which language is spoken where and when are referred to as language policies. Code Switching Code switching is a technical term in communication that refers to the phenomenon of changing languages. People code switch for several reasons: (1) to accommodate the other speakers. German. or (3) to express another aspect of their cultural identity. (in Belgium) Sometimes language policies are developed with language parity.

Having a common language also facilitates intercultural communication. still retain some of their elite status. of course. . Learning a foreign language is never easy. Lingua Franca: A commonly shared language that is used as medium of communication between people of different languages. Ancient Greek and Latin. Today. but it can also create animosity among those who must learn the other’s language.Globalization has sparked increased interest in some languages while leaving others to disappear. as well as French. but the dominance of English as the lingua franca raises important issues for intercultural communication. but “English is the de facto language of international communication today”.