What We Talk about When We Talk about Bilingualism
“Bilingualism” has long been a provocative term in Catalonia, where the concept is more often treated as ideological dogma than as a description of linguistic fact. This phenomenon is not peculiar to Catalonia; Joshua Fishman observed in the 1980’s the distinctly negative charge of all things “bilingual” in mainstream discourse in the United States. This talk will present a critical overview of these two discourses and their manifestations in the Koiné debate. It will consider what it means for engaged Catalan sociolinguistics to have eschewed the concept of bilingualism, and whether its recuperation is desirable and feasible in the present context.
Kathryn Woolard is professor emerita of anthropology at the University of California, San Diego, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and recipient of the 2016 International Ramon Llull Prize for her contributions in more than thirty-five years of ethnographic and sociolinguistic research on Catalonia. She is an accomplished author of Double Talk; Bilingualism and the Politics of Ethnicity in Catalonia (Stanford, 1989) as well as Singular and Plural; Ideologies of Linguistic Authority in 21st Century Catalonia (Oxford, June 2016), which received the Edward Sapir Prize from the Society for Linguistic Anthropology in 2017.
The Intrinsic Reward of Learning a New Language
During the last decade we have accrued important knowledge regarding the cognitive and neural mechanisms involved in the hard process of learning a second language, being these studies essential to understand how the brain of bilinguals is sculpted. However, it is still unknown which are the neural process underlying the human drive to learn a language and what maintains in time this effortful activity. A key question for the future is whether tapping into intrinsically rewarding forms of learning might be a more effective educational strategy than relying on external feedback and incentives. A second critical issue is to which extent the implication of this reward-learning intrinsic mechanisms could predict the success of the process of learning a new language.
Antoni Rodriguez-Fornells (PhD University of Barcelona post-doc University of Magdeburg ). His main topics of research have been bilingual language processing, executive functions and the brain correlates of error monitoring. In 2002, he got a "Ramón y Cajal" research position from the Spanish Government and afterwards joined ICREA as a Research Professor. Since then, he has created an interdisciplinary research group at ICREAIDIBELL-UB devoted to the study of learning process and brain plasticity effects in healthy and brain damaged patients. The group is located at the Hospital of Bellvitge – IDIBELL biomedical institute.