Multilingual sign outside the mayor's office in Novi Sad, Serbia, written in the four official languages of the city: Serbian, Hungarian, Slovak, and Pannonian Rusyn.
A stenciled danger sign in Singapore written in English, Chinese, Tamil, and Malay (the four official languages of Singapore)
Frontage of the Constitutional Court of South Africa written in South Africa's 11 official languages

Multilingualism is the use of more than one language, either by an individual speaker or by a group of speakers. It is believed that multilingual speakers outnumber monolingual speakers in the world's population.[1][2] More than half of all Europeans claim to speak at least one language other than their mother tongue;[3] but many read and write in one language. Multilingualism is advantageous for people wanting to participate in trade, globalization and cultural openness.[4] Owing to the ease of access to information facilitated by the Internet, individuals' exposure to multiple languages has become increasingly possible. People who speak several languages are also called polyglots.[5]

Multilingual speakers have acquired and maintained at least one language during childhood, the so-called first language (L1). The first language (sometimes also referred to as the mother tongue) is usually acquired without formal education, by mechanisms about which scholars disagree.[6] Children acquiring two languages natively from these early years are called simultaneous bilinguals. It is common for young simultaneous bilinguals to be more proficient in one language than the other.[7]

People who speak more than one language have been reported to be more adept at language learning compared to monolinguals.[8]

Multilingualism in computing can be considered part of a continuum between internationalization and localization. Due to the status of English in computing, software development nearly always uses it (but not in the case of non-English-based programming languages). Some commercial software is initially available in an English version, and multilingual versions, if any, may be produced as alternative options based on the English original.

  1. ^ Tucker, G. Richard (1999), A Global Perspective on Bilingualism and Bilingual Education (PDF), Carnegie Mellon University, retrieved 8 May 2018
  2. ^ Valdés, Guadalupe (2012). "Multilingualism". Linguistic Society of America. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Europeans and their languages, a survey co-ordinated by the European Commission" (PDF). European Commission. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 February 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  4. ^ "The importance of multilingualism". Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Polyglot". Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10 July 2010.
  6. ^ Kennison, Shelia M. (30 July 2013). Introduction to language development. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-1-4129-9606-8. OCLC 830837502.
  7. ^ Taeschner, T. (1983). The Sun is Feminine: A Study on Language Acquisition in Bilingual Children. Springer Series in Language and Communication. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 4. ISBN 978-3-642-48329-5. OCLC 858927749. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  8. ^ Kaushanskaya M, Marian V (2009). "The bilingual advantage in novel word learning". Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 16 (4): 705–710. doi:10.3758/PBR.16.4.705. PMID 19648456.

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