On 7 Sep 2011, at 09:33, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets wrote:

>> I know several people who were raised speaking Revived Cornish as children. They still favour that language when speaking to their father, though they speak English with their mother, as she spoke English to them as babies.
> Anecdote is no proof, and without knowing the full situation we cannot say what is really happening there.

Excuse me? Do you accuse me of lying?

I know both Trystan and Wella, and I have listened to them speak Cornish with their father. I met them when they were boys, and they are now men, and they still speak Cornish with their father. I saw their father last weekend at Gorseth Kernow where we celebrated the launch of An Beybel Sans, the first complete bible ever published in Cornish.

Pray, what is wrong with my anecdote? Either the boys speak Cornish to their father or they don't. In fact, they do. The bonding language they have with their father is Cornish, and the bonding-language they have with their mother is English. The only thing unusual about this situation is that Cornish is a revived language with few speakers. 

And I know dozens and dozens of people who speak Irish with their parents despite the fact that their parents also speak English. 

> Actual situations can be complex, and without a full context it is difficult to understand how multilingualism works among children.

Do you expect a full biography for every anecdote? 

> But general observations have shown that children will try to limit effort and language
> switching to a minimum.

Sounds like an anecdote to me. In fact, all the minority-language parent has to do is continue to speak the bonding-language with the child when it speaks to him or her in the majority language: "Och, feicim gur féidir leat Béarla a labhairt. Is féidir liomsa é sin a dhéanamh freisin." 'Ah, I see you can speak English. I can speak English too.' 

It takes strength, but so long as the parent holds fast the child will stick with the bonding-language. 

> As with everything that has to do with human behaviour, there are outliers, but that doesn't make the general case any less relevant.

I don't agree that your assessment of what is "general" is accurate. In fact bilingualism has been more common than not throughout the history of our species, though mass communications and public education have changed that somewhat. If you look at most of Central Africa, however, you will find a great deal of multilingualism. 

Michael Everson *