MULTILINGUALISM: EMPOWERING INDIVIDUALS, TRANSFORMING SOCIETIES

MEITS is a major interdisciplinary research project funded under the AHRC Open World Research Initiative. Linguistic competence in more than one language – being multilingual – sits at the heart of the study of modern languages and literatures, distinguishing it from cognate disciplines. Through six interlocking research strands we investigate how the insights gained from stepping outside a single language, culture and mode of thought are vital to individuals and societies.


Recent News

Celebrating Languages in Cambridge

On 22 March 2017 members of the MEITS team worked in collaboration with our partners, Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum (CEFC), to host an event bringing together a range of local linguistic communities with the aim of fostering exchanges about experiences of living in multilingual Cambridge.

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Talk on ‘Breton and the ECRML’ at the Cornish Language Festival in Penzance

On Saturday 25 February 2017, Merryn Davies-Deacon gave a talk on "Breton and the ECRML ( European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages)" at the Cornish Language Festival in Penzance. She presented an overview of where Breton stands in relation to the provisions of the unratified ECRML and how this can be compared with the situation of Cornish, for which the charter has been ratified but few concrete steps have been taken by the British government.

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Upcoming Events

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The Emergence of Standard English in Multilingual Britain

Faculty of English, University of Cambridge

Policy Journal

Languages, Society & Policy: Mission

LSP publishes high quality peered review language research in accessible and non-technical language to promote policy engagement and provide expertise to policy makers, journalists and stakeholders in education, health, business and elsewhere.

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Recent Blog

Is acquiring a second language like acquiring the first?

Human language has posed great challenges for learning sciences. It has long been noted that children acquire language with relative ease and rapidity and without effort or formal teaching while adult second language (L2) learners cannot. In particular, children show creativity in the course of first language (L1) acquisition, which goes far beyond the input that they are exposed to. This was dubbed as the poverty of the stimulus by Chomsky (1980), with an assertion that human’s knowledge about natural language grammar is supplemented with some sort of innate linguistic capacity. Chomsky (1965) put forth a hypothetical module called the language acquisition device (LAD), which enables human to acquire and produce language.

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“We killed him for being chichipato”: Fernando Vallejo’s politics of linguistic standardization

Probably the most ill-famed Colombian writer, Fernando Vallejo, has laid the foundations for a genre often referred to as la sicaresca antioqueña [the ‘sicaresque’ novel from Antioquia] after the publication of his first novel, La virgen de los sicarios, in 1994. The term, used for the first time by Héctor Abad Faciolince, playfully subverts the meaning of the term picaresca –the Spanish picaresque novel– by substituting the word pícaro [rogue] by sicario [assassin]. While constituting a genre of its own, la sicaresca combines different genres: chronicles, novels or films that revolve around the figures of assasins at service of the drug mafia.

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Spelling and the ongoing standardization of written norms

There have been a number of developments in recent months with regard to orthographic norms and standards in written language. The Institut d'Estudis Catalans (IEC) ratified a new set of spelling norms last October, which gave rise to heated debates over changes to the usage of accents (in terms of the diacritic). This January witnessed the death of 111-year old Zhou Youguang, who had played a pivotal role in the development of Pinyin, used for depicting Chinese characters using the Latin alphabetic script. One of the particularly valuable functions of Pinyin is for the teaching of Standard Chinese and a structured, clear, standardized set of writing criteria can be incredibly helpful in the language-learning process.

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