language shift

Anthea Fraser Gupta A.F.Gupta at
Thu Aug 2 22:38:18 UTC 2007

Is this one of those unanswerable questions (like 'do more people drive on the left or the right side of the road?') that we just don't have the data for? My gut feeling is to go with Fishman. But how would we know who is right?
Maybe it is a checks and balances thing, like a lot in internal language change. There are probably forces promoting bilingalism and forces promoting monolingualism and over time it ends up mixed, just as there are competing forces promoting synthetic and analytic languages.

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Anthea Fraser Gupta (Dr) 
School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT <> 
NB: Reply to a.f.gupta at 
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From: owner-lgpolicy-list at on behalf of Stan-sandy Anonby
Sent: Wed 01/08/2007 20:48
To: lgpolicy-list at
Subject: language shift

Hi All,

I just thought of something, and wonder if anyone has any comments:

I'm with Christina Bratt-Paulston that societal bilingulism is unusual, and that the tendency is to shift to monolingualism in the dominant language.

I'm also with Joshua Fishman, who says the bulk of humanity has always been bilingual.

So, how do we reconcile these seemingly contradictory statements?

Maybe it is the norm for human societies to be in language shift.

Stan Anonby

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