Thursday, June 9

Bilingualism -- Is it Possible??

Take a look at the poll to your right.  I am curious to know what you think: can a person ever be TRULY bilingual? 

Mira esta encuesta a tu derecha.  Me gustaría saber que piensan: ¿puede una persona ser REALMENTE bilingüe?
-No sé
-Hablo 8 idiomas 
Esta encuesta viene de una conversación entre mi tutor y yo.  Hablábamos de culturas, y de la cuestión de ser bilingüe.  Él propuso que no se puede ser bilingüe de verdad.  Se puede ser más fluído en hablar, saber más vocabulario, y comunicarse bien, pero sus pensamientos más profundos siempre van a venir en su primer idioma.  Lo más valorado sería conocer lo importante de la cultura, como vive la gente, qué les importa, y cómo funciona la sociedad.  

Estoy de acuerdo.  Pero, tambien tengo algunas dudas.  Quizás, las personas como yo, quienes aprenden otro idioma poco a poco durante los años, nunca lleguen a ser bilingües.  Estoy inclinida de creer que los bebes que crezcan en familias multiculturales, cómo tener papás de distinta nacionalidad y que estén en situaciones en que necesiten hablar dos, o más, idomas distintos desde nacimiento, no solo puedan hablar en idiomas multiples, pero tambien puedan pensar en todos sin parcialidad.  

¿Que creen ustedes?

This poll comes from a discussion I had with my tutor.  We were discussing culture and acquiring language.  He put forth that one cannot ever be truly bilingual.  The most we can hope for, and what should be most valued, is learning as much as one can about the people, how they live, what's important to them, and how the society functions.

I agree.  The little I learned of Korean language, although fascinating and useful, was ultimately far less, and more easily forgotten, than what I learned of the culture.  However, regarding bilingualism, I am inclined to believe that while people such as myself learning a language bit by bit over the years will never be fully bilingual, babies who are born into families and situations in which they must utilize two or more languages will not only be able to use these languages fluently, but also think in these languages without preference for one over another.  

What do you think?


  1. Yes, but eventually, depending on the environment, one language is likely to become more dominant than the other. I think of bilingualism as being able to speak two languages fluently and with knowledge of cultural nuances. Being able to keep both languages perfectly in balance, think in either without preference, etc. is too subjective.

  2. Very good point.
    I do wonder if at some point in the future, English and Spanish will have nearly equal prominence in the States.

    P.S. Who are you?

  3. Well, as Spanish speakers become the population majority, and through that, acquire more political clout, it's bound to happen eventually unless some drastic and morbidly unconstitutional measures are taken. Right? I mean, our political system is meant to cushion the government from the unbridled will of the masses, not oppose it completely, and if the masses are mostly made up of Spanish speakers... The thing is, in that scenario, equal prominence would be short lived too, because Spanish would take the lead.

    P.S. This is Phil

  4. Phil! You're quite right, I'm certain.
    Being bilingual yourself, I'm wondering on which occasions you find yourself thinking in French?

  5. Jordan, Thanks for sending the link to your blog. I love sharing in your travels.

  6. Hi Janice!! Glad to know you're reading :)

  7. I think in French when I'm in or have been in a French speaking environment recently; when I'm thinking about my past; when I've just watched a French movie or listened to French music; and when I lose my temper. Also, at random, indeterminate times that seem to have no obvious triggers.