Causes of Multilingualism in the Current World

Causes of Multilingualism in the Current World

Linguistic is a branch of anthropology which deals with the study of different languages and how they are structured to bring out the meaning. In the past linguists used to travel long distances so that they can interact with different ethnic groups and study their languages. Since people rarely understood languages of other ethnic groups, anthropologists used the differences in language to classify ethnic groups. However, the case has changed today whereby coming from different ethnic and language groups can easily communicate. The reason for the free and open communication across ethnic groups is the spread of multilingualism which is the use of more than one language by an individual or a community. Some the causes of multilingualism in the current world include the effect of colonialism, migration of people from one place to another, intermarriages among people from different language groups, and introduction of multilingual learning systems in schools.

First of all, colonialism has greatly contributed to the multilingualism being witnessed in the current world. During the colonial period, powerful countries were struggling with partitioning the world into smaller countries so that they can rule over them and exploit their resources (Aronin 12). Still, the colonies had to live with the native people, and so they decided to teach them foreign languages. As a result, the native people ended up learning the new languages and applying it in their daily lives. Some of them were impressed with the foreign languages that they taught them to their children. Besides, some colonial powers rewarded those native individuals who could speak a foreign language fluently. In this regard, many native people struggled to understand foreign languages so that they can as well be rewarded. Due to the continuous use of foreign languages, people ended up incorporating them into their culture. For example, most African countries use foreign languages such as English, Spanish, and French as their national languages.

Secondly, the migration of people from one place to another has resulted in multilingualism. The current improvement in transport and technology has made it easier for people to travel any place of their choice. As such, people who dislike their place of birth have decided to shift to other place either within the country, in the continent or outside the continent. When people move to a new place, they tend to learn the new culture so that they can be taken as the residents of that place. In the process, they learn the language spoken by people of that place. They may also teach the natives their languages, and this leads to an exchange of languages. As such, people of that place or those who have migrated to the place will have to learn the new language and culture, and this leads to multilingualism.

Furthermore, intermarriages between people from different language groups have contributed to the use of more than one language in the world (Bamgbose 48). When a couple speaking different language move together, they end up teaching each other their languages. The same happens to their offspring who learn both the paternal and maternal languages. In the current world, intermarriages between people from different language groups have become normal unlike in the past where marriage was restricted to one’s ethnic group. Thus, inter-racial and tribal marriages have resulted in the spread of multilingualism in the current world.

More so, the introduction of a multilingual learning system in almost all countries in the world has made a great contribution to speaking of multiple languages among individuals around the world (Singleton 111). For example, in the United States, children who go to school are introduced to other languages besides their first language. Those who speak English as a first language may be introduced to Spanish or Germany, and vice versa. The same happens in other countries, including those in Asia and Africa. The aim of teaching multiple languages in schools is to enhance cultural diversity and international interaction. As such, learning to speak other languages has become a custom since the world has become a social place where people can travel anywhere and meet with anyone. Therefore, there is a need to understand other languages to be sure of traveling and living anywhere in the world.

In conclusion, multilingualism has become a custom nowadays unlike in the past when people were restricted to their first languages. In this case, ethnographers have found it easy to travel to any community to study their culture since the challenge of the language barrier has been resolved. As explained above, the major causes of multilingualism trace from the colonial period when colonial powers persuaded native people to learn foreign languages. Besides, intermarriages, emigration and immigration, and the introduction of multilingual learning in schools has contributed to the current rise of multilingualism. Although the understanding of multiple languages has affected people’s culture, it has also enabled people to travel and live anywhere in the world as long as they can communicate fluently with the people living at their new places.





Work Cited

Aronin, Larissa, and David Singleton. “Multilingualism as a new linguistic dispensation.” International Journal of Multilingualism 5.1 (2008): 1-16.

Bamgbose, Ayo. “Pride and prejudice in multilingualism and development.” African languages, development and the state. Routledge, 2002. 45-55.

Singleton, David, et al., eds. Current multilingualism: A new linguistic dispensation. Vol. 102. Walter de Gruyter, 2013.

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