Recognition of bilingualism: what is at stake for society?

Translation of the interview with Marie Rose Moro, pédopsychiatre à la maison de Solenn – Paris

The stakes for society of the recognition of bilingualism are both pragmatic and political.

Pragmatic because the more we accept differences, between children, between languages, between ways of being, between skills, skin colours etc., the stronger the group and the stronger the social bond. So this is already a very pragmatic issue.

The second issue is more political. If we recognise and accept mother tongues, then we also allow all these children who are going to become adults, because we recognise them as they are, to have easier access to other languages, other worlds, other relationships. It is a way of fighting against this fear, this fear that we can have of “falling back on each other”. We withdraw into each other when we are in danger, when we are afraid of each other, when we feel that we are not recognised and that we are less than others. But if, on the contrary, we are in a system where everyone can find his or her place in the group, then this encourages the learning of the second language, of the values of the outside world, of exchange, of common action.

So it’s an antidote to communitarianism.

It’s a way of fighting against all forms of discrimination and of creating a social link that is strong enough to enable us to exchange, to mix, to transform and to recognise each other. It is therefore an extremely strong political issue, but that is also why it is very practical, because fear is a bad counsellor, and our fear of communitarianism sometimes leads us to be afraid of mother tongues when it is exactly the opposite: the recognition of mother tongues is a way to better invest the outside world and the values of the outside world. Moreover, the better I speak and the more I love my mother tongue, the better I speak French.

Merci à marie Rose Moro

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