PREFACE

ONE INCIDENT DURING my years as a PhD student changed my views on academic research considerably: I was drafting a joint paper with my supervisor Lesley Milroy and in it I cited a textbook writer's comments on William Labov's work which included a quote from Labov. Lesley, who knows Labov's work well, asked me, 'Have you read Labov's original paper?' and pointed out that the comments by the textbook writer were in fact misguided and misguiding. Rather sheepishly I had to admit that I had not read that particular paper of Labov's. When I did read the paper, I was astonished to find what Labov meant in the original paper was very different from what the textbook writer suggested in his comments. Since then, I have been rather suspicious of authors' interpretations and comments, especially the sharply worded ones, on other people's work. I have learnt the benefit of reading the originals.

I am often amazed to see many of our otherwise quite brilliant students readily base their arguments on 'second-hand' interpretation and remarks. I understand that once on that 'degree assembly line', students do not have much choice but to turn out essays and reports very quickly. They do not normally have the time to delve into a wide array of publications, ranging from history and anthropology to neurology and artificial intelligence, in which research papers on bilingualism typically appear. I am nevertheless concerned that a new generation of 'scholars' might be emerging out of a 'hear-say' tradition.

I have also learnt from my visits to Central America, and East and Southeast Asia, that many of the books and journals which we use routinely in our teaching and learning and which we take for granted are not always readily available in those places, because of inadequate library facilities. I have become concerned that research on bilingualism which deals with linguistic and cultural diversity is in fact inaccessible to the very people we wish to represent.

It is with these concerns that I have decided to compile the present Reader. The main objective of the Reader is to make available in a single, affordable volume a selection of the most important research papers on bilingualism. I have focused primarily on the 'classics' in bilingualism research-papers that every newcomer to the field must read and the more established researchers frequently

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