Bilingualism and multilingualism are often perceived and considered as a problem or a major challenge to individual and/or societal development. In most instances, the only advantage recognized for the bilingual individual is the ability to use two or more languages. Beyond that, monolingualism seems more attractive, and monolinguals especially those speaking a language of wider communication seem quite content with their lot, often adopting a condescending attitude toward minority native speakers of a mother tongue who in addition have to acquire their language. Adepts of the ideology of monolingual habitus (one nation, one language) have tended to consider multilingualism and linguistic diversity as a curse and an obstacle to nation building. This chapter argues against the above ideology through a compendium of empirical evidence of advantages of individual bilingualism, societal multilingualism, and linguistic diversity of nations that emerge from research findings in the last several decades.
Part of the book: Multilingualism and Bilingualism