A Comparative Study on Bilingualism and Multilingualism

bilingualism, multilingualism, linguistics, art in society


  • T Jayanath
    tharindu96jayanath@gmail.com (##journal.primary_contact##)
    University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka


Language is a system that consists of the development, acquisition, maintenance and use of complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so. Due to the existence of a large number of languages in the world, people tend to speak several languages apart from their mother tongue. This particular situation has caused the arrival of the theories called “Bilingualism and Multilingualism.” The main intention of this study is to discuss how bilingualism differs from multilingualism and the subcategories of these theories of linguistics. Bilingualism is the phenomenon of speaking and understanding two languages. Meanwhile, multilingualism is the use of more than two languages either by an individual speaker or a community of speakers. Many people become bilingual or multilingual considering several facts such as career advantage, broader education options and more interestingly according to the researches done by scientists, they have proven that bilingualism and multilingualism help to improve the power of thinking. Two categories can be seen under bilingualism namely Coordinate Bilingualism and Compound Bilingualism. Whilst Addictive and Subtractive Multilingualism are the two major categories of multilingualism.  According to the current statistics, the percentage of bilingual speakers of the world is 43% meanwhile the multilingual speakers own a percentage of 13% of the world population. The statistics clearly demonstrate that the number of bilingual speakers in the world is outnumbered the number of monolingual speakers in the world which is 40% of the world population. In conclusion, the main objective of this research is to bring forward the linguistic background of Bilingualism and Multilingualism discussing the types, causes and effects of these two modern-day language concepts.