The genesis and development of research in multilingualism: Perspectives for future research
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SubjectDefinition of multilingualism; Research on multilingualism; Language acquisition; Minority languages; Cultural diversity
This contribution focuses on current multilingualism research initiatives, in particular on issues of cultural and linguistic diversity which influence research perspectives and choices. In addition, a new comprehensive definition of multilingualism is posited, one which incorporates the factor of influence at the discursive level and also outlines perspectives of future research. The research desiderata include the historical dimension of multilingualism, comparative studies of linguistic phenomena among minority language users, the exploration of “emergent varieties” especially in young people, “linguae francae”, and dialect border areas for “a grammar of language contact”. The topics of “receptive multilingualism” and “unintentional, unfocussed learning” are referred to. The chapter calls for intensifying the statistical basis for multilingualism studies and highlights an important role for the representatives of second and third generation migrants in many sociolinguistic areas. Research fields for the analysis of multilingualism in institutions, the media and the economy are also suggested. In conclusion, the need to develop theoretical foundations of multilingualism and systematic and continuous review is underlined, so that independent research can develop.
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