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Bilingual Community: An Ethnography Conducted in the San Diego Area - Essay Example

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Bilingual Community: An Ethnography Conducted in the San Diego Area

Many people around the world speak multiple languages, but not many use them interchangeably all the time. Bilingualism focuses on the idea that certain individuals can think, act, and speak in two or more languages as a situation dictates. Dreifus postulates “you have to use both languages all the time. You won’t get the bilingual benefit from occasional use”. While it is helpful to learn both languages as a child, it is still possible to become truly bilingual later in life as well. It is interesting to note that historically people tended to look down on bilingualism. This was perhaps out of jealousy, or it was out of fear that larger society would put them at disadvantage. As Dreifus points out, however, today bilingualism is looked highly upon by many segments of society. Being able to appreciate one’s own culture, while still assimilating effectively into another is truly a gift. In addition, training the mind to think interchangeably in more than one language is great exercise for the brain and has even been shown to reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s....
As Dreifus points out, however, today bilingualism is looked highly upon by many segments of society. Being able to appreciate one’s own culture, while still assimilating effectively into another is truly a gift. In addition, training the mind to think interchangeably in more than one language is great exercise for the brain and has even been shown to reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s (Dreifus 2011). As mentioned, many abhor the idea of bilingualism as they see it as a way of diminishing the dominant culture. In China, for example, the government recently announced a proposal to severely curb, and in some areas eliminate, the teaching of the Tibetan language and culture. Many Tibetans are happy bilingual and, while trying desperately to hold onto their own culture, have done a reasonable job of assimilating into larger Chinese society as well. This is becoming threatened if they are not permitted to use their language in academic settings. The fear is that, over time, their culture would be diminished to the point that they would lose their own culture (Wong 2010). Bilingualism creates strong feelings and, rightfully so, many Tibetans peacefully protested this movement in an effort to hold onto the bilingual way of life. The study of bilingualism is important because, as is the case in Tibet, many cultures and our very way of life are being threatened. Eiermann (2012) recently conducted an interview about this very topic with world-renowned anthropologist Luisa Maffi. It was mentioned that dominant cultures are not at risk of losing their identity, but they are hesitant to openly allow others into the fold. At the risk of diminishing their own culture and language, they will ...Show more
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Summary

Our world today is growing in population more rapidly than at any other time in our planet’s history, yet we seem to be more interconnected to one another than ever before. Even given this reality, however, many still find themselves limited by certain language and cultural barriers that have existed and developed over time. …
Bilingual Community: An Ethnography Conducted in the San Diego Area
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