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Discrete bilectalism, multilingualism, and (a)typical language development

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Across the globe, multilingualism is already the norm in many societies. Nevertheless, research into language acquisition, development, and breakdown still predominately considers monolingual speakers. Our research into language development focuses on multilingual and multicultural speaker communities — and apparent monolingual language use with a twist. In this talk, we will present a small portion of our ongoing research activities by focusing on two varieties of Greek (Cypriot and Standard Modern Greek), their role in language development (in a diglossic society like Cyprus), and some findings from atypical language development (specific language impairment). We will also report additional data collected from truly multilingual children and address the relevance of the local dialect. One of the upshots of this research is to take language acquisition and development in diglossic contexts to be different from both mono- and bilingual acquisition; we introduce the term “(discrete) bilectalism” on the basis of the evidence we have established so far. While much of this is still ongoing research in many ways, our talk will make the attempt to portray the fruitful combination of two perspectives for investigating these matters, a theoretical take from linguistics and an empirical view from speech pathology.

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Linguistic Society series.

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