Australia's Language Potential by Michael Clyne

By Michael Clyne

Australia is a rustic with a large range of languages in an international during which there are extra multilinguals than monolinguals. This e-book explores the anomaly of a country wealthy in language assets, but characterised by means of monolingual considering. With perception and keenness, Michael Clyne illustrates the ways that our language assets may be consolidated and additional constructed for common gain.

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In the following example, a young woman is unable to persuade her friend to lend her a book that they both need. She uses me to withdraw from the solidarity relation that would have been expressed in this context by tao … mày: Coâ khoù quaù thoâi khoûi ñeå, vaäy. ’ (From Ho-Dac) Because young bilingual people in Australia grow up in an environment in which they use the community language mainly with family and close friends, many of them do not develop the distinction between formal and AustLanguagePotential04 15/8/05 12:39 PM Page 30 3 0 • AU S T R A L I A ’ S L A N G UAG E P OT E N T I A L informal pronouns of address (such as tu and vous in French) and make errors when they have to address someone formally such as in Year 12 oral examinations.

Over time, languages change, especially in contact with other languages, and away from their heartland, such changes are likely to accelerate or even take a different course. For instance, Dutch in Australia has the tendency towards the following grammatical changes: 1 2 3 Whereas there are two definite articles corresponding to ‘the’ in Homeland Dutch, het (neuter) and de (common gender), de is overgeneralised in Australia, especially in the second generation. De is more frequent and closest to English.

This chapter will consider the value of plurilingualism to the individual, the family and community, and to the nation and its role in the world, and the limitations of this value. This is not to say that we want to propagate plurilingualism as something special. It does not need to be a property of specially intelligent or specially gifted people; nor is it a problem or a deficit, something that needs to be associated with the disadvantaged or mentally handicapped. I will focus on the ordinariness of plurilingualism and of people using more than one language.

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