A Canadian in wales Takes a Whimsical Look at Trilingualism

Any Canadian, whichever side of the bi and Bi fence he/she falls on, is well aware of the issues facing a society with two official languages. People in Wales are familiar with the debate, as well. The Quiet Revolution and the rise of Cymdeithas yr Iaith happened simultaneously.
Today, Arguments about the merits of a bilingual nation, bilingual education; and preference given to bilingual job applicants are ubiquitous in both countries. In fact, it seems that contrary to the popular view about religion and politics, there are few topics which can spark more emotional rhetoric than that of language.
So I was rather taken aback to read statements by Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru; and the Shadow Ministers for Education and the Welsh Language in Cardiff, Angela Burns and Suzy Davies of the Welsh Conservatives recently, highlighting the desirability of trilingualism for the next generation. If bilingualism is a lightning-rod for politicians, let’s just add fire to that debate exponentially, shall we? I say: “Go, girls!”
On the other hand, there are some popular misconceptions about what trilingualism means, as I discovered when I began nosing around the Internet to see what kind of interest there was in the subject. As far as I can tell, the “authorised” definition of “trilingual” is the following:

(of a person) Speaking three languages fluently.

(of a text or an activity) Written or conducted in three languages.

When I did a Twitter search for “trilingual,” “trilingüe” (accented u or otherwise) and “teirieithog,” I found that many people seem to believe you can consider yourself trilingual if you know a few words in a third language. No wonder there is such controversy about introducing third-language acquisition into primary education!
As for my informal statistics, Spanish seems to win hands down, in terms of personal aspirations of English-speaking people, though French, Portuguese, Korean, Russian, Hindi, Arabic, Swedish, Malay, Sarcasm and a language called “bitch”* which I’d never heard of, but which numerous people on twitter seem to speak, (by their own account), figure rather high on the list.
* If, by some remote chance, you care to do a search for the words “trilingual” and the aforesaid, you’ll see just how popular it is.

As expected, my search for “trilingue” revealed that most French/Italian/Spanish/Portuguese speakers are already trilingual so the discussion is moot.

In business, Japanese, Chinese and English are widely sought.

Fortunately, more organised minds than mine are engaging with this topic, as research published in the New York Times will attest, highlighting issues of language acquisition in India, where multilingualism is a given. The article simply asks the question, whether being able to speak a third language at a young age really does have an impact on a child’s learning, just because second-language learning does.
Another aspect of the language debate is how, as a business owner in an age where awareness of the needs of minorities is becoming an increasing, positive priority, one serves a pluralistic customer base. A new venture by the South African wine industry features a trilingual dictionary trilingual, (that is to say English, Afrikaans and Xhosa) wine dictionary. Wine terms are listed in English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans.
In conclusion, the question of trilingualism is evidently a concept which individuals and businesses are grappling with, along with many other important issues of inclusion, in the 21st Century. Optimists and those who love languages can hope that our recent preoccupation with it as English-speakers might indicate a realisation of how important it is. I think we would do well to follow the example of nations which understand language-learning as an implicit aspect of culture as well as an aid to learning in general; and those enlightened souls who would call for its inclusion in early education.