All of the preceding discussion has emphasized the social aspects of multilingualism and has interwoven the story of languages with the sociology and psychology of their speakers. Here I want to turn to a closer examination of the relationship between multilingualism and multiculturalism; this, in a sense, picks up a thread first exposed in the chapter on bilingualism, where an integrative motivation for second-language acquisition was seen to grow from the desire to know more about and perhaps to eventually take on the characteristics of another culture. Beyond an individual level at which multilingualism and multiculturalism might overlap, it is also clear that social recognition—perhaps at a policy level—of one involves the other, too. Here we must consider issues of pluralism and assimilation. Related to this is the linkage between language and groupness (ethnicity or nationalism) which is centrally the relationship between language maintenance and cultural continuity.
The school is an arena in which these matters have often been treated and discussed, so we must consider education here. But, in doing so, it will also be necessary to expand the horizon from multilingualism and multiculturalism to multidialectalism and multi-subculturalism (if such an ugly word is permitted). The school which deals with different languages and cultures is also a point of contact for dialects within one given language, and subgroups within one given culture. Of particular interest, perhaps, is the more or less conscious use of schools as agents of linguistic and cultural policy—sometimes, some would say, of repression.
Also in this chapter I must say something about the great internal division found in all cultures, that between men and women. Without necessarily going so far as to suggest that the sexes comprise two subcultures—although in some societies this seems a reasonable description—it is apparent that language use and language choice can vary according to the sex and situation of speakers.
This chapter, then, will touch briefly on some very broad groupings indeed: social class, ethnic/national and sexual. I may as well say at the outset that the treatment is likely to be flawed, part of the reason being that