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LINGUIST List 25.632

Fri Feb 07 2014

Review: Applied Ling; Language Acquisition; Socioling: Bhatia & Ritchie (eds.) (2012)

Editor for this issue: Monica Macaulay <monicalinguistlist.org>

Date: 18-Jun-2013
From: Gabriel Guadalupe <gguadalupealbany.edu>
Subject: The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, 2nd Edition
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/24/24-279.html

EDITOR: Tej K. Bhatia
EDITOR: William C. Ritchie
TITLE: The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, 2nd Edition
SERIES TITLE: Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics
PUBLISHER: Wiley-Blackwell
YEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Gabriel V Guadalupe, State University of New York at Albany


“The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism” consists of 36 chapters with 47 contributors from different fields both within and outside of linguistics, offering a multidisciplinary perspective on bilingualism and multilingualism. The Handbook begins with a brief introduction by Tej K. Bhatia and William C. Ritchie to the new edition, which has added “multilingualism” to the title to reflect current trends in the field. Rather than repeat the terms “bilingualism” and “multilingualism”, the editors employ the term ‘plurilingualism”. While this term is not employed by all contributors, the editors find that they need a term to encompass all of the phenomena that both bilingualism and multilingualism entail.

The book is divided into four parts: “Overview and Foundations”, “Neurological and Psychological Aspects of Bilingualism and Multilingualism”, “Societal Bilingualism/Multilingualism and its Effects”, and “Global Perspectives and Challenges: Case Studies”.

Part I consists of two chapters that introduce the different approaches employed in the subsequent parts. Chapter 1, “Bilingualism and Multilingualism: Some Central Concepts,” by John Edwards, discusses the terms ‘bilingualism’ and ‘multilingualism’, and reviews theoretical frameworks pertinent to research in the field. He begins by engaging the terms ‘bilingualism’ and ‘multilingualism’; how, when, and why they occur in society. The author later explores psychological aspects of bilingual and multilingual individuals. A particular point of interest to Edwards is that of language and identity. He argues that, as a “vehicle of tradition and culture” (p.19), language and its use can help the researcher understand bilingualism beyond linguistic parameters, observing language in social context.

In Chapter 2, “Conceptual and Methodological Issues in Bilingualism and Multilingualism Research,” Li Wei lays a theoretical foundation that reflects the attention bilingualism and multilingualism have garnered from scholars from a wide range of disciplines. These disciplines reflect the levels at which bilingualism and multilingualism can be realized: the societal or individual levels. On the one hand, sociohistorical processes lead to language contact, which has different consequences on the types of multilingualism. On the other hand, at the individual level, researchers are concerned with the cognitive processes that being bilingual entails and the mental representation of more than one language in the brain. The author calls for a more consistent use of terminology across the various disciplines, and an evaluation of research methods with regard to the “confusion of ‘multi-/interdisciplinarity’ and ‘innovation’’’ and addressing “the tension between ‘basic’ and applied research” (p. 46).

Part II is divided into five sections that cover a wide array of topics from neurological issues to emotions and gestures. The first section, “The Neurology of Bilingualism and Multilingualism”, consists of Chapter 3, “Bilingual Aphasia: Theoretical and Clinical Considerations” by Elizabeth Ijalba, Loraine K. Obler, and Shyamala Chengappa, which provides a review of clinical case studies of bilinguals with aphasia and discusses the various models that help one understand how aphasia affects the bilingual and polyglot minds. Using three models (the declarative/procedural memory model, the inhibitory control model and the hierarchical (translation) models), the authors discuss language organization and processing, issues of language interference and reasons for aphasic deficits.

Section 2, “Approaches to Bilingualism, Multilingualism, and Second-Language Acquisition”, consists of articles, which approach bilingualism and multilingualism from different fields in linguistics: language and cognition, second language acquisition, and syntax and heritage language learners. “The Bilingual Child” by Ludovica Serratrice acknowledges the consensus in the field of bilingual language acquisition that while simultaneous bilingual children possess two independent language systems, provided there is sufficient exposure to both languages, this independence does not exclude cross-linguistic interaction. With this in mind, Serratrice reviews phonological, lexical, and morphosyntactic development by analyzing speech perception, speech production, and word learning in bilingual children.

In Chapter 5, “Bilingualism/Multilingualism and Second-Language Acquisition”, Yuko Goto Butler explores issues that can be related to and found at the cross section between bilingualism, multilingualism, and L2 acquisition by focusing on three topics: the conceptualization and assessment of language proficiency, age and L2 acquisition, and cross-linguistic influences. Goto Butler provides a classical typology of bilingualism that characterizes its dimensions: balanced/dominant vs. receptive/productive, etc. The author analyzes language proficiency and engages three different views toward language acquisition: the formal linguistic, the individual-cognitive, and the socio-contextual view. Goto Butler addresses the research on key aspects of age and L2 acquisition such as the existence of the critical period, the measurements/assessments of L2s, and the definition of what is an L2. In terms of cross-linguistic influences, Goto Bulter presents an overview of the research on various transfer phenomena such as interference and interlanguage.

Chapter 6, “Multilingualism: New Perspectives on Syntactic Development”, by Éva Berkes and Suzanne Flynn, explores first, second, and multilingual acquisition. The authors are interested in the interconnectedness of L1, L2, and L3 acquisition with respect to syntactic development. They propose that L2 acquisition research can provide insight into language development in general. When discussing L2 acquisition they elaborate on two models, the maturation model and the strong continuity model, with attention being paid to the role of Universal Grammar. Also part of the discussion is the issue of transfer from the L1 to the L2. Berkes and Flynn point out that multilingual acquisition further complicates the equation by adding multiple elements that require attention: cross-linguistic influence, language learning strategies (cultivated during L2 acquisition), and again, the role of Universal Grammar. For multilingual acquisition, the authors explore the L2 status factor, the typological primacy model, and the cumulative enhancement model. They review case studies that analyze the (enhancement) effects of previous knowledge of different L1s and L2s on the acquisition of the complementizer phrase in L2 and L3 English. Berkes and Flynn make predictions as to the role of knowledge of these syntactic structures in subsequent language acquisition in the L3 and L4.

Chapter 7, “Bilingualism and the Heritage Language Speaker” by Silvina Montrul, examines various definitions of ‘bilingualism’, ‘bilingual individuals’, ‘heritage language’, ‘the heritage language speaker’ and ‘the heritage language learner’. She argues that a heritage (language) speaker’s history and proficiency are influenced by many factors, at both the neuropsycholinguistic and sociopolitical levels. She notes the importance of examining two variables, age of acquisition and language use, which affect linguistic competence in the heritage language. Incomplete acquisition is related to linguistic competence, not a bilingual’s communicative competence. Montrul also discusses the “increasing interest in investigating the potential similarities and differences between second-language learners and heritage speakers” (p.181). She suggests that the potential similarities and differences are not only important to answering questions about pedagogy but could also help researchers analyze the nature of language acquisition as a whole.

The next section, “Bilingual and Multilingual Language Use: Knowledge, Comprehension, and Production'', is composed of three chapters. In Chapter 8, “Two Linguistic Systems in Contact: Grammar, Phonology and Lexicon”, Pieter Muysken examines the implications of contact on the lexicon, morphosyntax, and phonology of the languages involved. He proposes a multidisciplinary methodology to better understand linguistic phenomena that have normally been treated separately as subfields, such as interference and code-mixing. At the end of his overview, he discusses the integration of the aforementioned subfields and possible directions for new research methodologies resulting from the combination of various fields in linguistics.

Chapter 9, “The Comprehension of Words and Sentences in Two Languages” by Judith F. Kroll and Paola E. Dussias, evaluates language processing in bilinguals. The authors review the current neuro- and psycholinguistic research on the comprehension of words and sentences in bilinguals. They also elaborate on the scope and nature of cross-language activation, including evidence from studies that explore its neural basis. The authors provide evidence from various studies that propose that although both languages may not be needed in language tasks, both languages may be activated. Their overview demonstrates that bilinguals’ two languages, cognitively and neurologically, are accessible to one another. This accessibility can be seen at the word- and sentence processing levels. In addition, the interconnectedness between bilinguals’ two languages in the brain brings into question the plasticity of the cognitive and neural representations of the L1 and L2.

Chapter 10, “An Appraisal of the Bilingual Language Production System: Quantitatively or Qualitatively Different from Monolinguals?” by Elin Runnqvist, Ian FitzPatrick, Kristof Strijkers, and Albert Costa, explores processing differences between monolinguals and bilinguals. The quantitative factors investigated include linguistic factors such as lexical entries and a large phoneme inventory. Qualitative differences can be seen at the level of conceptual representations; system(s) dedicated to language control. The authors go into detailed discussion on bilingual production at the pre-lexical, lexical and post-lexical levels. They particularly expand on bilingual production at the lexical level by discussing three aspects: a) the availability and implications of having two words for one concept, b) the difference in speed and accuracy in lexical retrieval, and c) the effects of having cognates in two languages. They also touch on post-lexical processing, namely foreign accent in L2 production. They conclude that most differences in language production can be attributed to quantitative differences. The authors note that further research is still needed to determine whether quantitative differences will translate into qualitative differences.

The following section, “Bilingualism and Multilingualism: Memory, Cognition, and Emotion”, features two chapters from the field of psychology. Chapter 11, “Bilingual Memory” by Roberto R. Heredia and Jeffrey M. Brown, presents a review of what the authors believe to be the most influential (psycholinguistic) theories of bilingualism, in particular bilingual memory (storage and retrieval). In their overview, the authors discuss earlier theoretical frameworks of bilingual memory representations. Concepts such as the “signifier” vs. the “signified” gave way to theories such as the coordinate, compound, and subordinate systems. Later models reformulated, reexamined, and/or challenged earlier theories. These include: the bilingual coordinate-compound distinction, the shared (interdependent) vs. the separate (independent) hypothesis, the bilingual dual coding model, earlier hierarchical models (the word association model and the conception mediation model), the revised hierarchical models and the distributed conceptual feature model. Finally, the authors briefly discuss bilingual lexical access by reviewing studies that investigate whether bilingual lexical access is language-selective or language-non selective.

In chapter 12, “Bilingualism and Emotion: Implications for Mental Health”, Ines Martinovic and Jeanette Altarriba examine the connection(s) between emotion and language in the bilingual mind. The authors focus on bilingualism in relation to the representation of emotion and its coding in the bilingual brain, which, they argue, can vary depending on cultural and social context. In particular, Martinovic and Altarriba discuss bilingual autobiographic memory and argue that the memory of the bilingual individual, the language in which a memory was encoded, and the linguistic phenomenon of code-switching all have effects on the expression of emotion. The latter half of the chapter presents issues related to patient therapy such as the use of interpreters and the role of culture (aptitude) in successful therapy.

The final section of Part II, “The Bilingual’s and Multilingual’s Repertoire: Code-Mixing, Code-Switching, and Communication Accommodation”, contains 5 chapters which comment on the multiple strategies bilinguals and multilinguals employ to express meanings. Chapter 13, “Code-Switching and Grammatical Theory” by Jeff MacSwan, summarizes various developments in syntactic theory as it concerns code-switching. He reviews the evolution of the term ‘constraints’, which went from a descriptive perspective (well- or ill-formed code-switches) to a theoretical perspective that adheres to a system of linguistic rules. While strides have been made in terms of the rigor of constraint-based theoretical approaches to syntax and code-switching, counterarguments continue to challenge these approaches.

Chapter 14, “Sign Language-Spoken Language Bilingualism and the Derivation of Bimodally Mixed Sentences” by Gerald P. Berent, serves as an introduction to bimodality (code-switching between sign language and spoken language; bimodal bilingualism), and describes the properties and types of bimodal code-switches and how one can approach them. Central to Berent’s approach(es) is MacSwan’s minimalist approach. The focus of the Minimalist Program is to identify the most basic operations and components of the human language faculty while still being able to explain the variability among human languages. When applied to bilingual mixing and constraints on mixing, MacSwan’s minimalist approach looks to the requirements of the mixed grammars. The requirements of the two interacting grammars will be able to account for all unimodal code-switching. With this assumption about code-switching, Berent goes a step further by saying that bimodal bilingual code-switching can be accounted for and is constrained by the requirements of the interacting bimodal grammars. In his chapter, Berent draws parallels between unimodal and bimodal code-switching to ultimately lay the foundation for linguistic research on bimodal mixing with the framework of the minimalist program.

In Chapter 15, “Social and Psychological Factors in Language Mixing”, William C. Ritchie and Tej K. Bhatia introduce additional approaches to bilingualism and multilingualism with attention paid to external motivations for these linguistic phenomena, the social evaluation of bilingualism and multilingualism, and bilinguals’ self-perception in terms of language use. The authors also address questions about whether language-mixing or language-switching is a random phenomenon.

Chapter 16, “Accommodating Multilinguality” by Itesh Sachdev, Howard Giles, and Anne Pauwels, utilizes Communication Accommodation Theory to study the motivations for language choice. In this chapter, the authors only focus on bilingual and multilingual accommodation while excluding other types of accommodation such as accent. They summarize Communication Accommodation Theory and how it explains the social psychological reasons for speakers to engage in bilingual and multilingual accommodation.

In Chapter 17, “Bilingualism and Gesture” by Marianne Gullberg, bi-modal bilingualism is further discussed. Gullburg talks about (bilingual) child language development and the role that gestures play in children’s input and output. Gullberg reviews studies on adults and gestures in three areas. The first is that of gesture in relation to an L2’s proficiency level. The second concerns gestures and the bilingual mind, and the level of cross-linguistic influence. The last area is face-to-face bilingual interaction with much data coming from L2 studies. The author points out that studies on bilingualism and gestures still require a stronger theoretical and empirical foundation to better understand “the nature of bilingual conceptual, semantic and morphosyntactic representations” (p. 431) and how those representations are realized in real time.

Part III is titled “Societal Bilingualism/Multilingualism and its Effects”. It contains two sections that address bilingualism and its implications for society: “Language Contact, Maintenance and Endangerment” and “Bilingualism and Multilingualism: The Media, Education, Literacy, and the Law”. The first chapter in section 1, “The Bilingual and Multilingual Community” by Suzanne Romaine, explores the various levels at which bilingual and multilingual communities can exist: the nation, indigenous groups, and migrant communities. Romaine addresses bilingual language use and how domains have a great effect on the manifestation of bilingualism (different types of bilingualism including diglossia). The chapter also discusses the ways in which governments can regulate language use and the implications for global trends in bilingualism.

In chapter 19, “Language Maintenance, Language Shift, and Reversing Language Shift”, Joshua Fishman describes different cases of language contact and their outcomes in the United States. He shows that while there are periods of language maintenance, the tendency is largely towards language shift. Fishman also provides examples of other language situations beyond the United States that can stem from the existence of ethnic (indigenous) minority languages as he discusses reversing language shift and the different stages along his language shift spectrum.

In “Linguistic Imperialism and Endangered Languages” (Chapter 20), Robert Phillipson and Tove Skutnabb-Kangas pose questions regarding how and why languages have higher or lower status in terms of the hierarchization of languages. The authors propose that the answers to these questions can be found through the study of the components of linguistic imperialism: past, present, and future. Many of the examples of linguistic imperialism in this chapter are the result of colonialism and the more recent phenomenon of globalization. At the end of the chapter, the authors provide examples of successful revitalization efforts such as the African Academy of Languages and successful revitalization stories from India as they stress the need for language policies that are more sensitive to social and linguistic issues.

Chapter 21, “Multilingualism, Indigenization, and Creolization” by Jeff Siegel, explores two closely related phenomena in the field of contact linguistics, indigenization, which refers to a language brought to a new location where it is then spoken by the local population, and creolization, which refers to the creation of a new language as a result of linguistic and cultural contact. Siegel highlights the psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic processes, such as transfer, simplification, and reduction, which occur in both indigenization and creolization.

Chapter 22, “Multilingualism and Family Welfare” by Xiao-Lei Wang, offers insight into issues that families encounter when attempting to raise a multilingual family; that is, a family where there is more than one heritage language. The author points out possible obstacles that may arise such as differences in parental childrearing beliefs and practices, and the quality of family communication (when does communication occur and who participates in said communication?). Wang offers suggestions and strategies for a more successful outcome. Her focus is on communication, with much of the responsibility of effective communication falling on the parents to achieve a multilingual family.

The second section of Part III contains five chapters, which explore additional facets of bilingualism in modern society. It begins with Chapter 23, “Bilingualism and Multilingualism in the Global Media and Advertising”, by Tej K. Bhatia and William C. Ritchie. Through a detailed analysis of global advertising discourse, the authors demonstrate the role of English(es) in various cultures. They engage the topic of globalization and the use of English in non-English speaking nations as a marketing tool. Despite the strong trends of globalization through English, the authors point out that there are some areas of Hindi advertising that are still inaccessible to English. For example, English is used for fashion while Sanskrit is used for the advertising of fabrics.

Chapter 24, “Bilingual Education” by Wayne E. Wright, focuses on bilingual education, which, in this context, means education in the dominant societal language and the student’s native language. The author provides a brief history of bilingual education research and describes various models common in the United States such as transitional bilingual education programs, developmental bilingual education programs, dual language programs, and bilingual immersion programs. The author points out methodological and theoretical issues for each model, and addresses problems facing all bilingual programs in the United States, including the availability and training of qualified bilingual teachers, and the political aspects of bilingual education. Wright calls for the establishment of standards, both national and international, for the training of bilingual teachers. He suggests that more research should be conducted inside and outside the United States in order to document the effectiveness of various models of bilingual education and to address the needs of students. At the end of the chapter, Wright calls for the recognition of bilingual education as the “only way to educate children in the twenty-first century” (p. 619).

In Chapter 25, “The Impact of Bilingualism on Language and Literacy Development”, Ellen Bialystok discusses how bilingualism can affect language development in terms of metalinguistic awareness (lexicon, syntax, phonology). Bialystok presents an overview of the literature and explores the effect of language development(s) on literacy. Factors such as proficiency level, differences in past experiences, and varied language task demands can lead to various outcomes in terms of (successful) language and literacy development. The author points out differences in achievement between bilinguals and monolinguals in certain language tasks. While there is little evidence to suggest that there are significant differences in overall achievement concerning metalinguistic skills, Bialystok notes the advantages of bilinguals in terms of their ability to ignore misleading information and, instead, focus on relevant features/structures.

Chapter 26, “Bilingualism and Writing Systems” by Benedetta Bassetti, explores biliteracy and its cognitive consequences. The author explains what constitutes a writing system and addresses differences found across writing systems: phonological transparency, morphological transparency, etc. Bassetti shows how literacy in more than one language affects many other aspects of a bilingual’s language abilities (acquisition, metalinguistic awareness, production).

Chapter 27, “Multilingualism and Forensic Linguistics” by Tej K. Bhatia and William C. Ritchie, serves as an introduction to the field of forensic linguistics. While there is still no consensus on a definition of forensic linguistics, Bhatia and Ritchie explain that it “is an off-shoot of linguistics which stands at the interface of the theory and application of linguistics in the legal context” (p. 673). In order to demonstrate this intersection, the authors provide examples from cases such as speaker identity detection, group identity detection, and Medicaid fraud. The authors note the usefulness of linguists in the investigation of such cases due to their knowledge and training in both formal linguistics and the socio-psychological aspects of language use. They also discuss aspects of plurilingualism in the courtroom, including cross-linguistic pragmatics, language naming, and language mixing. The authors note the new demands that will be placed on the profession of forensic linguistics prompted by an ever-changing multilingual world influenced by globalization and social media.

Part IV, “Global Perspectives and Challenges: Case Studies”, offers the reader a glimpse into how plurilingualism plays out across the globe. Each region provides a different context in which plurilingualism can occur, including colonization, borderlands, and the existence of ethnic minorities. Each chapter centers on a major region of the world.

Chapter 28, “Bilingualism and Multilingualism in North America” by William F. Mackey, argues that despite North America’s reputation as a monolingual English-speaking region, a different picture emerges. From Canada with French and Native American languages to the United States with large bilingual communities, North America offers linguists examples of borderlands, both physical and linguistic, in language communities throughout the region. Mackey ends the chapter with a description of the current reality and future of North American plurilingualism.

Chapter 29, “Bilingualism in Latin America” by Anna María Escobar, presents an overview of the various bilingual situations in Latin America. She discusses societal bilingualism, which in this case refers to bilingualism between an indigenous language and Spanish with some exceptions (Portuguese-Spanish in regions of Paraguay and Uruguay, and English-Spanish in the U.S. Southwest and Puerto Rico). Bilingualism in Latin America can trace its roots to colonial times. Despite the elimination of many Amerindian languages in Latin America, recent efforts to revitalize indigenous languages have been achieved with varying degrees of success.

Chapter 30, “Bilingualism in Europe” by Andrée Tabouret-Keller, addresses the various bilingual situations within Europe. While regional languages have been present in many European countries, the case of bilingualism/multilingualism in Europe is being shaped by the presence of regional languages along with waves of migration and immigration. Tabouret-Keller goes into detail with three case studies; French, Breton, and Sorb. They were chosen for their representation of different linguistic situations impacted by historical and political factors. The author ends the chapter by discussing current trends in bilingual education in Europe and the role of English as a means of transnational communication.

In Chapter 31, “Turkish as an Immigrant Language in Europe”, Ad Backus presents the history of the Turkish immigrant community throughout the region. The chapter describes situations of Turkish as an immigrant language and how it is being maintained past the first generation. Backus gives various accounts of language contact phenomena such as borrowing, code-switching, language change, etc. He invites the reader to draw parallels between Turkish as an immigrant language and other well-studied immigrant languages throughout the world, such as South Asian languages in the U.K. and Spanish in the United States.

Chapter 32, “Multilingualism in Southern Africa” by Nkonko M. Kamwangamalu, presents an overview of the history of the region from colonialism to present times. Southern Africa consists of ten countries that were all subject to three colonial European powers, England, Germany, and Portugal. With the independence of many countries in Southern Africa came questions of language policy/planning at a national and international level. The second half of the chapter goes into more detail about multilingualism in Southern Africa by exploring language policy, language planning, and language ideology. A major theme in the chapter is the role of colonialism in the past, and how colonialism continues its legacy by informing many decisions at the governmental level. This legacy is manifested in the supplantation of indigenous languages by European languages (English, Portuguese, and Afrikaans).

Chapter 33, “Multilingualism in Greater China and the Chinese Language Diaspora”, by Sherman Lee and David C. S. Li, comments on multilingualism in the area that consists of Mainland China, Taiwan, and the Special Administrative Regions -- Hong Kong and Macao. The languages (also considered dialects) in question here are those that fall under the Han Chinese Language (Mandarin, Wu, Yue, etc.) and minority languages such as Zhuang, Manchu and Mongol. The authors specify the linguistic situations throughout Greater China by exploring contact phenomena that have occurred in the region: cases of diglossia and/or bilingualism, language shift, and language death. With such contact also come issues of bilingual education and revitalization. The diasporic situation also presents unique issues. With the largest diaspora in the world, the subject of language maintenance is manifold. The authors describe different waves of migration of ethnic Chinese both within and outside of Greater China, and provide detailed sociolinguistic profiles of the current Chinese language diaspora around the world.

In Chapter 34, “Bilingualism and Multilingualism in South Asia”, Tej K. Bhatia and William C. Ritchie describe how multilingualism in this part of the world, and particularly in India, consists of situations that differ from those discussed in previous chapters. With a multitude of languages from four different language families, the authors situate South Asian bilingualism in its social context. The focus here is not so much on colonialism or displacement of other indigenous languages, as is the case for multilingualism in other regions of the world, but rather that South Asia and India’s multilingualism can be attributed to demographic factors which can range from expressing one’s identity to linguistic accommodation and assimilation.

Chapter 35, “Multilingualism and Language Renewal in Ex-Soviet Central Asia” by Birgit N. Schlyter, demonstrates how multilingualism in the former Soviet Central Asia has undergone a different history than other regions of the world. This area shares a common political history and also shares an ethnic connection, mainly between Turkic and Iranian populations. The promotion of Russian and the suppression of ethnic languages during the Soviet era still have implications for language policies in the region today. The situation now is that of revitalization of ethnic languages, which are becoming national symbols in the region. The author elaborates on the language policies being employed in each country, which in turn affects the script used (Cyrillic vs. Persian vs. Latin), the borrowed vocabulary, and new patterns of language behavior.

In Chapter 36, “Bilingualism/Multilingualism in the Middle East and North Africa: A Focus on Cross-National and Diglossic Bilingualism/Multilingualism”, Judith Rosenhouse clarifies the bilingual/multilingual situation of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Rosenhouse discusses contact between Arabic and other Semitic languages and contact with Iranian languages. The author explores the details of the formal (legal) state of the MENA languages and the sociolinguistic situation in the region. She briefly reviews long-established research on code-switching and diglossia with Arabic and other languages. The author points out that MENA languages have only recently become the topic of research in psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics with further research still needed.


Together, the contributing authors provide a comprehensive overview of the field. What makes this a difficult task is the multidimensionality of bilingualism and multilingualism. There is a multitude of approaches that complement one another by offering the reader new perspectives on a field that is multidisciplinary in nature.

The chapters provide a literature review of previous studies, current trends, and directions for the future. Many of them would be beneficial as supplemental material to a multitude of classes in linguistics. It is especially invaluable for graduate students in search of ideas for research. The bibliographies at the end of each chapter offer the reader ample opportunities to further explore the material. The works in the Handbook stress the need for more solid theories that are substantiated by rigorous empirical data with the goal of strengthening and broadening our understanding of plurilingualism.

For a volume of this magnitude and scope, the editors were successful in organizing the chapters thematically so that each section is coherent in its focus. The transition between chapters flows smoothly, enhancing the information presented in previous chapters while inviting the reader to explore new aspects of plurilingualism. While the approaches throughout the book may be from different fields, the goal remains the same: to look at plurilingualism through a critical lens to better understand how it affects society and the individual.

This goal, however, may be hindered by theoretical divergence within the field. As mentioned in Chapter 2, the multidimensional aspect of bilingualism and multilingualism has led to difficulties in communication in the field in terms of approaches and methodologies. Of particular relevance to the reader is that of terminology. Difficulties may arise from the employment of different terminologies across the various disciplines covered in the Handbook. Even if similar terms are used, the connotations and implications of the terms may lead to misunderstandings given different theoretical backgrounds and research objectives.

Even though certain chapters may be better suited for specialists in a particular discipline, the Handbook allows the reader to break out of one’s comfort zone to better understand a fluid and rapidly changing field. Despite these changes and the wide scope of the field, this volume will challenge researchers to figure out what steps should be taken and what methodologies should be employed to come to a clearer understanding of bilingualism and multilingualism.


Gabriel Guadalupe is currently ABD. He is interested in sociolinguistics, language contact, bilingualism, and language and identity.

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