In linguistic research at the turn of the century, particular attention was paid to the issue of bilingualism, and the common understanding of this term is a person’s ability to alternately use two language systems for communication. Bilingualism has a long history and is widespread in the world, but continues to be a phenomenal occurrence in a certain sense, insofar as it comprises not only individual communication, but is characteristic of various societies.
The definitions of natural and artificial bilingualism are given in this article. The reasons of biand polylingualism origin, their social sources are observed. The interaction of the students in a bilingual situation is analyzed. Some different classifications of bilingualism are given into consideration. Consequently, bilingualism establishes a situation of active proficiency in both languages, characterized by switching codes in various communicative acts. Issuing from the given understanding of bilingualism is an understanding of the bilingual as an individual, proficient in both languages to such a degree that it allows them to use both languages in communication.
Bilingualism is the paramount sociolinguistic problem in multicultural society, and in situations of spontaneous Kazakh-Russian communication, but also in the context of the educational space and the sporadic intercourse of communicators. Here, we invoke questions of natural and artificial bilingualism. The Dictionary of Sociolinguistic Terminology, edited by E.D. Suleimenova, gives the following definition of natural and artificial bilingualism: “Natural bilingualism is the knowledge and use of two languages as a result of the spontaneous interaction of native speakers of these languages. Artificial bilingualism is the knowledge and use of two languages as a result of premeditated and specially constructed conditions for learning the second language and other languages” [1, 160].
In Kazakhstan’s language situation, when learners’ and students’ education programme is directed at the “language trinity”, we come across both natural bilingualism (for example, Russian/ Kazakh, and Kazakh/Russian) as well as artificial bilingualism in the education system during the study of a foreign language, most often English.
In linguistic research at the turn of the century, particular attention was paid to the issue of bilingualism, and the common understanding of this term is a person’s ability to alternately use two language systems for communication. Bilingualism has a long history and is widespread in the world, but continues to be a phenomenal occurrence in a certain sense, insofar as it comprises not only individual communication, but is characteristic of various societies. Of interest, is the theory of artificial bilingualism in the material of writers and publicists from Kazakhstan in part, and its development by Kazakh and Russian writers, the analysis of Russian-language writers’ works in monographs, and U.M. Bakhtikireeva’s scientific publications. In her research she addresses the phenomenon of artificial bilingualism and remarks that, “in the history of world culture, the phenolmenon of artificial bilingualism has been wellknown since ancient times” (2, 7). Accordingly, it is necessary to emphasize that this occurrence is undoubtedly positive because, as many scientists, having researched the given phenomenon, remark, bilingualism is the result of a contact of cultures, the result of inter-cultural communication [3, 34]. It is namely thanks to bilingualism that active inter-cultural communication is strengthened, and the development of human civilization occurs. It is a well-known fact that practically all language collectives adopt something from their neighbors, and are themselves the source of given knowledge for other communities. In other words, the process of cultural borrowing is usually reciprocal. The problem of bilingualism goes far beyond the realm of the theory of speech acts, and is closely linked with the comparative typology of languages, the problems of the occurrence and development of different languages, the study of linguistic universals, uniqueness, and many other things.
With the development of international contacts, more and more people are not confined to their mother tongue – they read, converse, listen to radio programmes, and write in second and third languages. In the media, words and phrases demonstrating proficiency of not only two or three, but even more languages, are very frequently used. The term multilingualism is extensively used – it is a reality for modern young people in Kazakhstan who, in conditions of globalization, very extensively learn and use three languages (Kazakh, Russian, and English) in their own day-to-day communication, and in the professional domain.
A mass of questions arise linked to the given research focus, in particular, the question of language blending that represent a specific system, gradually assimilated by the individual – questions linked with language shift. These systems interact closely, which is vividly represented at the level of speech communication.
There are interesting observations of student interactions in bilingual situations, and also in instances when young people learn second and third languages. Such cases testify to the fact that students actively use the knowledge of languages in lessons and in varied communication situations. Undoubtedly, the process of interference is evident. As with the transition from one language to another, in particular when there is a psychological transferal of elements from the mother tongue (in the areas of grammar, lexicon, and phonetics) to the learned language. Our observations show that, often even outside the classroom, use influences the learned language, which immediately enter the language system and reflect strategies and tactics in speech behavior. As is well-known, the phonetic code is the closest of all to the internal speech code. Its influence on pronunciation in different languages is particularly difficult to overcome. It is possible that interference more weakly manifests itself among polyglots, insofar as the systems of different languages influence the new languages less.
Professor A. A. Leontev argues that it is easier to achieve purity of speech with a language that is not closely related. For example, it is recommendded to language-learners to study Swahili after Japanese [4, 12]. Then the influence exerted by another language manifests to a lesser degree. Observations of students from the faculty of foreign languages confirm the proposed thesis insofar as young people learn, as a rule, three nonnative languages, for example, Russian, Kazakh, and English.
To a greater extent our attention is focused on bilinguals who seek mutual understanding in a second language in various communicative situations. According to this criterion, at least on the basis of learning Kazakh, English, German, and French in school, very many people are considered to be bilinguals. A bilingual is deemed to be a person who uses a second language to the same degree as a native language. That said, there are not so many people proficient to the same degree in two languages. In this case, we observe a specific language shift to the use of either one, or another, language.
The theory of bilingualism looks at the causes for the emergence of biand multilingualism, and its social sources. The review of linguistic literature we have undertaken has allowed us to identify the following types of contacts: a) a common residence area of people of different nationalities (mixed population). So, except Russians living in Moscow, there are Armenians, Jews, Tatars, Ukrainians, Georgians, Germans et al. They are all bilingual if, of course, they remember their mother tongue. An increasing percentage of bilinguals is also observed in neighboring areas located close to borders: SpanishFrench, Polish-Lithuanian etc. Examples of collective territories can be applied to several states: Switzerland (French, German, Italian languages); Canada (English and French languages). There are a great deal of countries where, in contrast with Switzerland and Canada, the inequality of languages can be observed, occasionally leading to conflict situations. Despite the conflicts, bilingualism is inevitable and necessary; b) emigration and immigration for political and economic reasons for example, to Russia from France after the French Revolution and from Russia to France after the 1917 Revolution. A multi-national and multi-lingual state, the United States of America, has formed on the basis of relocation from Europe to North America in search of sources of income;
- economic and cultural links, tourism, and war;
- education and science: foreign languages are
studied in all countries in secondary school and higher education, in families, by self-teaching methods etc. The designated contact types were represented in various historical periods throughout the former Soviet Union and now evoke particular interest in aspects of research on the theory of bilingualism.
Contact between peoples, cultures, and languages occurred for different reasons: geographic proximity, seizure of territory by force, the willing understanding of members of the collective that it is not possible to live in isolation, and that it is necessary to learn the language and culture of other peoples (such was the case, for example, in Russia during the reign of Peter the Great, “opening a window on Europe”; in Kazakhstan in due course the great thinker Abai came to the understanding of the necessity of language and culture contacts. But whatever the reason for this, bilingualism (or multilingualism) has always been a positive feature because, according to V.M Blinokhvatova’s fair observation, “it is impossible not to note in this the prestige factor for knowledge of many languages. It asserts the wise saying, ‘You are as many times human as the number of languages you know.’” By their own experience, people learn the extent to which having two and more languages widens their communicative, social, and informational horizons. Proficiency in several languages not only facilitates the process of learning and communicating, but also gives a decided freedom with the choice of language and speech behavior, which is a clear advantage of bilinguals and polyglots, effectively elevating their status [5, 12].
A variety of bilingualism classifications are proposed by modern academics, for example:
- based on the correlation of bilingualism with a certain social environment: individual, group, and mass;
- by the process of natural and artificial assimilation. Bilingualism may be natural, by which it is implied that a person grew up in a bilingual environmentperhaps they had to speak German when they were at home, Russian but outside, on the street, at school, as is characteristic of many “Russian” Germans. Bilingualism is considered artificial if learning a second language didn’t happen in parallel with learning the native language, but at a later time, for example, during studies in school, college, or privately with a teacher.
- by the level of proficiency: coordinative (“true”) and subordinative (“mixed”). Coordinative (“true”) bilingualism is the one person’s separate use of two languages, achieving correct
speech production in L1 and L2 by force of language balance” [6, 50]. Subordinative (“mixed”) bilingualism is the type of bilingualism in which the second (acquired) language is, as it were, superimposed upon the first [7, 27].
In modern sociolinguistics, the spectrum of types of bilingualism is taken to be broad: from passive, when an individual understands speech in another language, but doesn’t speak it, to complete fluency with languages, for example the bilingualism of translators. U. Weinreich defines bilingualism as “the practice of alternating use of languages” [3, 37]. The given definition is clarified by V. Y. Rosenzweig, understanding bilingualism to be, “proficiency in two languages and using them alternately, independent of the conditions of speech communication” [8, 15]. Contained in the given definition of bilingualism is an indication of the main feature of this phenomenon relating to the functioning of both languages in the intercourse of one and the same communicants, according to which alternate use of languages presupposes a sufficiently high level of proficiency in them. Consequently, bilingualism establishes a situation of active proficiency in both languages, characterrized by switching codes in various communicative acts. Issuing from the given understanding of bilingualism is an understanding of the bilingual as an individual, proficient in both languages to such a degree that it allows them to use both languages in communication. E.A. Karlinsky defines the term “language proficiency” as the ability to carry out action in a given language that is of a creative nature that manifests in the ability to generate new utterances, depending on the changing situation” [9, 365]. Such an understanding of the term “language proficiency” corresponds with how E. Hogan understood bilingualism: with due consideration of the bilingual’s ability to produce complete utterances in semantic relations, in another language [10, 67]. So, considering native speakers of active bilingualism to be bilinguals, one could presume that the level of language proficiency they have may be different.
A low degree of proficiency in the second language is above all contingent upon a more narrow sphere of its functioning, and less experience with its use, as we observe in the northern regions of Kazakhstan. Experience with states of the former Soviet Union bear witness to the unequal status of languages by which bilingualism is conditioned on the whole in instances with extra-linguistic elements: socio-economic, political, and cultural priorities of one of the language communities. A language which is broader in the scope of operation, and the skill of ownership that is greater, exerts “linguistic” pressure on an individual, issuing a preference for it in the majority of speech situations. Pre-existing extra-linguistic factors create “social” pressure for bilinguals, compelling them to give a preference to one of the languages in their own intercourse. “Linguistic” and “social” pressure always depend upon the external conditions of a language’s operation, and can vary in different situations. Study of this aspect in different social groups is the most promising direction for future research.
Unequivocally, under the conditions of the language situation of Kazakhstan, we have to deal with both natural bilingualism, as well as with artificial bilingualism. Speech behavior among young people is testament to the bilingual nature of communication in educational and day-to-day arenas. At the same time, a transition can be observed from one language to another depending on the focus of speech, the ethnicity of the recipient, and situations of inter-cultural communication.
- Suleimenova E.D, Shaimerdenova N.Z et al. Dictionary of sociolinguistic terms. – 2nd ed. – Almaty: Kazak universiteti, 2007. – 330 p. – P. 160.
- Bakhtikireeva U.M. The artificial bilingual identity: The national Russian-speaking writer and the distinctive features of his Russian literary text. – Moscow: Triada, 2005. – 192 p. – P. 7.
- Weinreich U. Monolingualism and multilingualism // The new in linguistics. – 6th ed. – Moscow: Progress, 1972. – P. 25-60.
- Leontev A.A. National particularities of communication as a multidisciplinary problem. Focus, tasks and methods of ethnopsycholinguistics // National & cultural specifics of speech behaviour. – Moscow: Nauka, 1977. – P. 5-14.
- Blinokhvatova V.M. The Russo-French bilingualism of the Russian nobility in the first half of 19C. (in letter writing). – Stavropol, 2005. – P. 11-12.
- Shaibakova D.D. The operation of inorganic language in poly-ethnic society (on Russian-language material in Kazakhstan): PhD. Almaty, 2006. – P. 50.
- Khasanov B.Kh. Kazakh-Russian artistic literary bilingualism. – Alma-Ata: Rauan, 1990. – 190 p. – P. 27.
- Rosenzweig V.U. Fundamental questions on the theory of language contacts // The new in linguistics. Language contacts. – 6th ed. – Moscow: Progress, 1972. – P. 5-24.
- Karlinsky A.E. Fundamental theories on the interaction of languages. – Alma-Ata: Gylym, 1990. – P.365. 10 Hogan E. Lanugage-contact // The new in linguistics. – 6th ed. – Moscow: Progress, 1972. – P. 61-80.