18. The Bilingual and Multilingual Community

  1. Tej K. Bhatia and
  2. William C. Ritchie
  1. Suzanne Romaine

Published Online: 3 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118332382.ch18

The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, Second Edition

The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, Second Edition

How to Cite

Romaine, S. (2012) The Bilingual and Multilingual Community, in The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, Second Edition (eds T. K. Bhatia and W. C. Ritchie), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118332382.ch18

Editor Information

  1. Syracuse University, USA

Author Information

  1. University of Oxford, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 3 OCT 2012
  2. Published Print: 7 NOV 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444334906

Online ISBN: 9781118332382



  • bilingual communities;
  • diglossia;
  • language use;
  • multilingual communities;
  • multilingual nation-states;
  • societal bilingualism


This chapter is concerned primarily with multilingualism as a societal rather than individual phenomenon. The relevance of nation-state with respect to the connection between individual and societal bilingualism is apparent when considering reasons why certain individuals are or become bilingual. The ways in which language resources are organized and allocated in bilingual societies and language communities have implications for a wide range of activities. Many bilingual communities are characterized by diglossia, a term used to refer to a kind of functional specialization between languages so that the language used within the home and in other personal domains of interaction between community members, is different from the one used in higher functions, such as government, media, and education.