Is bilingualism compound or coordinate?

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The compound-coordinate distinction is difficult to reconcile with the more recent view that first language acquisition and subsequent language acquisition are basically similar. A review of that distinction is in order. Ščerba and Weinreich first posited a compound-coordinate distinction after observing that bilingual Sorbians had identical lexical ranges for Sorbian and German words. When examined in light of recent work in areal convergence, Ščerba and Weinreich's data do not warrant a compound-coordinate distinction. What their data warrant is a comparative statement about the lexical ranges of languages which have and languages which have not been in contact with each other for centuries. Their data do not warrant, as they believed, a statement about different bilingual lexical ranges among various individuals in the same speech community. Future research into bilingualism must proceed without assuming that the compound-coordinate distinction w was established at the time of its postulation. © 1976.




Shaffer, D. (1976). Is bilingualism compound or coordinate? Lingua, 40(1), 69–77.

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