Bilingualism: [from Latin bi- two, lingua tongue and -alism as in nationalism] The capability to make alternate (and sometimes mixed) use of two languages, in contrast to monolingualism or unilingualism and multilingualism. In the social context of languages like English, especially in England and the US, the traditional tendency has been to consider the possession and use of one language the norm. Bilingualism, however, is at least as common as monolingualism, about half the world's population (about 2.5bn people) is bilingual and kinds of bilingualism are probably present in every country in the world. The capability to function in two (or more) languages has been closely researched in recent years and is often discussed in terms of such categories, scales, and dichotomies as:
If someone is only capable of speaking and understanding one language, his
mothertongue. Or to put it another way, if someone is not fitting in any of
the classification or categorization of multilinguals.
Bilingualism: using or knowing more than one language (can be more than two languages); so every bilingual person is also multilingual, but the contrary is not necessarily true, e.g. consider someone speaking three languages.
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