Multilingualism, Multi-competence and (Limits to) the Interaction Between Language Systems

  • David Singleton Trinity College Dublin / University of Pannonia
Keywords: Multilingualism, multi-competence, language development, mental representation


This article addresses the proposition that all talk whatsoever of bounds between language-varieties in the mind should be abandoned. This abandonment of boundaries is a standard view in respect of the semantic or conceptual dimensions of language. The tendency does not, however, stop there; being called into question is the whole notion that languages in the mind are bounded entities in any of their aspects. The response offered here to such a position is that language knowledge in the mind is all its aspects, in fact, highly differentiated, and that this differentiation broadly follows the lines recognized by the traditional conception which draws (always, of course, permeable) lines between languages. Evidence is adduced in favour of this latter view from a number of areas, including language loss and recovery, bilingual/multilingual development and communication and the affective dimension of language differentiation.

Invited Article