I love the Equality for All quote that says: “Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you: It’s not pie.” You can get a t-shirt that says just that. And, it got me thinking about bilingualism. Grosjean uses a beautiful analogy of the hurdler as representing the bilingual, with sprinters and high jumpers representing monolinguals. The hurdler incorporates both of these but isn’t exactly like either one.
Can the analogy work with pie? You’d think I’d have thought of it, since food is something I do know about, and well, frankly sprinting and high jump is something I know about but never really did as an activity. Baking well, YES. I do know something about that.
So, what about pie– or maybe cake (since I can back a pretty darn good cake, pie not so much, something about the crust). But, apple cake, raspberry cake, orange cake– yes I make those. I also combine flavors. When I do that the WHOLE cake is delicious. Last week for example, I made a blackberry orange cake. Not blackberry, not orange but the combination. And it was delicious– I think my favorite combination yet.
What does this have to do with bilingualism? Well, being bilingual doesn’t take away from one language or the other. It’s not half raspberry or half orange. Though of course it could be more of one than the other. But, the whole is fully incorporated, delicious, and each of the unique flavors enhances the others. The combination is different, unique, and it’s a whole cake! Just like knowing two languages– knowing one does not take away anything from knowing another (or a 3rd). The languages can work synergistically–enhancing, and supporting each other.