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Professor Elizabeth Lanza
University of Oslo

Recent approaches to the study of multilingualism address different stages of the lifespan: children, youth, adults and the elderly, and also issues that are relevant across the lifespan such as acquisition, attrition, linguistic practices, and language transmission and socialization. Psycholinguistic and more cognitively oriented approaches to the study of multilingualism have specifically addressed the lifespan perspective by studying language competence across various age groups, although a societal perspective often is generally missing. Sociolinguistic and anthropologically oriented approaches to multilingualism, on the other hand, generally do not deal with linguistic practices across the lifespan, although time scales have received more attention in sociolinguistic research. This paper will address multilingualism across the lifespan, focusing on the multilingual individual, social interaction and social practices in multilingual contexts, as well as the management of multilingualism, taking into account the various stages of the lifespan. A focus will be on recent developments concerning language acquisition, and language transmission and socialization. I will present an overview of each field, addressing developments in the respective fields from a lifespan perspective and will highlight how both psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic approaches can contribute to a better understanding of multilingualism.

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