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Bilingualism, code-switching and aging

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Abstract

This paper summarizes some discussion around the myth of the inevitability of second language attrition and first language reversion in the elderly. This myth has motivated Australian policy on ethnospecific aged care. The research base in this area was greatly enhanced by Kees de Bot’s visit to Monash in 1986, facilitating the development of an existing corpus from Dutch-English bilinguals to a longitudinal study. Some previous assumptions about second language attrition in older bilinguals may have been overinterpretations of bidirectional code-switching and slower recall due to changes in language use patterns. The longitudinal project and subsequent research would encourage modified assumptions. The publication of de Bot and Makoni (2005) has been an opportunity for paradigm shift in the study of language and aging in multilingual contexts.

References

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