Multiligualism and Bilingualism

ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee Question/Answer on Cataloging Issues – July 2011
What kinds of subject headings are applied to works on multilingualism and bilingualism?
The Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) thesaurus has a few terms to cover the concept of multilingualism, also known as plurilingualism or polyglottism. The main term is Multilingualism. This term can be subdivided by place for works on the multilingual nature of specific places.
There are also a number of related terms:

Multilingual communication
Multilingual computing
Multilingual persons (use instead of Polyglots (Persons))
Multilingual Web sites (use instead of Polyglot Web sites)
Multilingualism and literature
Multilingualism in children

All of these terms can be subdivided by place.
In most cases LCSH prefers the term “multilingual” to the term “polyglot.” However there is one exception. The LCSH preferred term for “Multilingual dictionaries” is Dictionaries, Polyglot. This is probably because “Dictionaries, Polyglot” was a term that had been in use for many years, and is understood by bibliophiles. Also, the LCSH preferred term for “Multilingual information retrieval” is Cross-language information retrieval.
There are many more terms in LCSH for the concept of bilingualism and related concepts. The main term is Bilingualism. This term can be subdivided by place for works on bilingualism in specific places.
The related terms are:

Bilingual audiologists
Bilingual authors
Bilingual books
Bilingual communication in organizations
Bilingual secretaries
Bilingual speech therapists
Bilingualism and literature
Bilingualism in children
Bilingualism in children–Parent participation
Bilingualism in literature (cannot be subdivided by place)

With one exception, all of these terms can be subdivided by place.
The narrower terms are:

Air traffic control, Bilingual
Education, Bilingual
Interference (Linguistics)
Language attrition

These can also all be subdivided geographically.
Additionally, there are a few related terms that require some explanation. The term Code switching (Linguistics) is used for works on switching from one language to another by bilingual members of a speech community. Works on the simultaneous coexistence of two forms of the same language in a speech community are entered under the heading Diglossia (Linguistics). And works on bilingual court services are entered under Court interpreting and translating.
Finally the concept of the bilingual method of language teaching is entered indirectly as Language and languages–Study and teaching–Bilingual method. These subdivisions can be used under any established language heading so the catalog may have the heading French language—Study and teaching—Bilingual method, etc.

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