Antonella Sorace is Professor of Developmental Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. She has published widely in the field of bilingualism across the lifespan, where she brings together methods from linguistics, experimental psychology, and cognitive science. She is also committed to bringing research to people in different sectors of society. She is the founding director of the research and information centre Bilingualism Matters, which currently has 29 branches in three different continents.
Monolinguals: a species facing extinction?
Linguistics research has traditionally been shaped by the idea of a native monolingual speaker. Research on language learning and bilingualism has also defined attainment levels (e.g. “near-native speakers”) and differences (‘advantages' or 'disadvantages’) with respect to native monolingual norms. Is this still appropriate? I will show how interdisciplinary research that combines the strengths of linguistic, cognitive and social models is deconstructing the notion of the 'monolingual speaker' as a default. This, in turn, opens up new research avenues on bilingualism and, more generally, on language.