LINGUIST List 6.1588

Thu Nov 9 1995

Qs: Eng as int'l lg, Two I-languages

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. , English as an International Language
  2. "Crookston, Ian [HSC]", Query: two I-languages?

Message 1: English as an International Language

Date: Thu, 09 Nov 1995 14:14:24 English as an International Language
From: <>
Subject: English as an International Language

Hello, I am posting this message to ask you that if anyone out there
knows anything about PhD program which enable me to explore some
issues dealing with English as an International Language or World
Englishes. I am especially interested in doing a research on factors
regarding Native-Nonnative intelligibility, comprehensibility, etc..
I am aware the Univ. of Illinois has a program, however it only leads
you to Master's degree. If you could help me providing some
information, please send me a message to my address. Thank you very
much in advance.

Yuri Kumagai
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
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Message 2: Query: two I-languages?

Date: Wed, 08 Nov 1995 13:40:00 Query: two I-languages?
From: "Crookston, Ian [HSC]" <>
Subject: Query: two I-languages?

I am a lecturer at an English polytechnic. One of the many trades I
have to be jack of and can't possibly master is bilingualism. I have
to try and tell my students, inter alia, whether there is such a thing
as a person with two languages. That is, two machines in their brain
or two I-languages in Chomsky's sense. Since they are speech therapy
students, the answer could make a big difference to how they view
certain clients.

There is an obvious alternative possibility: someone whose words and
sentence patterns are "a mixture of two languages" could have a single
machine in the brain. Just because institutions publish two separate
dictionaries and two separate school grammar books doesn't mean there
are two separate machines in the brain.

All I can find out from the sources available to me is the following:

1. There is a growing number of books analysing the adult bilingual
competence which begin from the assumption that adult bilinguals have
two I-languages. I wish they would begin one step further back, and
explain the evidence for that assumption.

2. There is a growing body of research on bilingual acquisition, eg
Meisel's research. The only secondary source on this that I know is
the chapter in the huge new _Handbook of Child Language_ (Fletcher &
MacWhinney, pub. Routledge). This chapter is a great disappointment,
giving only conclusions and no evidence. If anybody out there can
summarise one key point of the evidence that would be extremely

However, this chapter did admit something that Meisel once expressed
by saying that this research only covers the situation where "nearly
everyone the child knows is monolingual" - I want to be able to tell
my students about the more common situation too.

Therefore, can somebody explain to me:

If you took an adult bilingual, and attempted to analyse their
grammar, using their utterances and acceptability intuitions, on the
assumption that there was one grammar underlying all their output,
where would that assumption break down?

If you want more concreteness, assume that the subject is a youngish
British Panjabi. Since birth all their close acquaintances will have
been bilingual; and their English will have a noticeably Panjabi
accent. (For all I know, these people's Panjabi also has an English
accent, that is, I guess their phonology is a "fudge" in Chambers &
Trudgill's sense). Their normal output contains words from the Panjabi
dictionary mixed - to superficial inspection freely - with words from
the English dictionary. However, I would be pleased to have the
question answered for Meisel's peculiar kind of bilingual too.

Answers on a postcard please!

Seriously, reply to "" and I'll post a summary.

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