Are we monolingual?

“…question about what you speak at home is not equivalent to asking whether you speak more than one language.”

(Written on August 14, 2017)

An interesting read about definition of “monolingual” Americans as 20% of them speak languages other then English at home, and so are we (replace English with Mandarin Chinese and its dialects).

So are we monolingual? No if you count dialects in.

This is a tricky question. Americans (Taiwanese or other whatever-ese in immigrant countries) as a collective entity are inherited multilingual, but groups with different ethnic, economic and social status would have wildly different language proficiency.

So in this question, who are “we”?


For those who are not familiar with Taiwan:

The official language in Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese; it’s nearly identical to the Chinese spoken in China but comes in different accents — the best analogy I know of is American and British English.

Most Taiwanese are at least bilingual if dialects count. There are two major dialects, Taiwanese and Hakka, and several aboriginal tongues. In addition, most young Taiwanese speak English and/or Japanese to different degrees while many senior citizens over 70 years old speak fluent Japanese and mainland Chinese dialects.

Taiwan is a small island but it’s possibly one of the countries with the most language diversity.