This chapter contains three main sections. In the first, we describe the bilingual person and address such issues as bilingual language behavior, the psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics of bilingualism, as well as the psychology of the bilingual individual. In the second section, we introduce the bicultural person and discuss topics such as bicultural identity and bicultural behavior. Finally, in the last section, we describe the Deaf bilingual and bicultural.
The Bilingual Person
Few areas of linguistics are surrounded by as many misconceptions as is bilingualism. Most people think that bilingualism is a rare phenomenon found only in such countries as Canada, Switzerland, and Belgium and that bilinguals have equal speaking and writing fluency in their languages, have accentless speech, and can interpret and translate without any prior training. The reality is in fact quite different; bilingualism is present in practically every country of the world, in all classes of society and in all age groups; in fact, it has been estimated that half the world's population is bilingual. As for bilinguals themselves, the majority acquired their languages at various points during their lives and are rarely equally fluent in them. Furthermore, few bilinguals are proficient interpreters and translators. (See the following for general overviews of bilingualism: Appel & Muysken, 1987; Baetens-Beardsmore, 1986; Clyne, 1972; Grosjean, 1982; Hakuta, 1986; Haugen, 1969; Romaine, 1989; Weinreich, 1968.)
In this first section, which is based to a large extent on Grosjean (1982, 1985, 1994), Baetens-Beardsmore (1986), and Haugen (1969), we will describe the many facets of the bilingual person.