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Bilingualism- Stephen Fry Investigates

Bilingualism- Stephen Fry Investigates

1 Sep 2015

On 1st September, Radio 4 aired a programme called ‘Fry’s English Delight – English plus one’. In this particular episode, Stephen Fry researched and interviewed bilingual speakers.

What is bilingualism?

Bilingualism can be broadly defined as a person’s ability to understand/communicate using two languages. What I found interesting after reading about the subject area of bilingualism is that there appears to be no universally agreed ‘definition’ of what bilingualism is. Scholars and researchers have tried to ‘categorise’ bilingualism in a number of ways to try to explain the variables involved. For example:

Was the person exposed to languages from birth, as a teenager,r or as an adult?

Are both languages fully used or does the person use one language fully but never speaks the other language?

What were the circumstances surrounding the exposure to two languages? i.e. traveling, learning at school, moving abroad, etc.

Yiddish, English, Italian, and German

During the radio programme, Stephen talks to various people from around the world who are bilingual. He finds out that one language is always the more dominant, however slight. This is usually when emotions are strong. Stephen learns about one lady who speaks English and Italian – English is her more dominant language but when she is angry she reverts to Italian!

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1 September 2015 – BBC Radio 4