26. Bilingualism and Writing Systems

  1. Tej K. Bhatia and
  2. William C. Ritchie
  1. Benedetta Bassetti

Published Online: 3 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118332382.ch26

The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, Second Edition

The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, Second Edition

How to Cite

Bassetti, B. (2012) Bilingualism and Writing Systems, 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.ch26

Editor Information

  1. Syracuse University, USA

Author Information

  1. University of York, UK

Publication History

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

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444334906

Online ISBN: 9781118332382



  • bilingualism;
  • biliterates;
  • cognitive consequences;
  • cross-orthographic influences;
  • metalinguistic awareness;
  • monoliterates;
  • reading;
  • writing systems


Each language is written with its own writing system. Users of different writing systems differ in reading, writing, literacy acquisition, metalinguistic awareness, and nonlinguistic cognition. This leads to the question of how knowledge of more than one writing system affects biliterate bilinguals, that is, speakers of more than one language who are literate in more than one language. This chapter introduces some basic concepts and then overviews three topics: first, bilinguals' reading, writing, and learning of writing systems; second, how biliterates differ from monoliterates; and finally the metalinguistic and cognitive consequences of biliteracy. The main idea behind the chapter is that knowledge of two writing systems changes bilinguals' minds, and that biliterates differ from monoliterates.