Bilinguals an dementia


bi Bob Fairnie

Aboot fower year syne, Eurolang, the wabsite o the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages, reportit aboot twa studies that spelt guid news for bilingual fowk but no sae guid news for monolinguals.  The results fae the studies that leukit intae memory an senility in 2004 an dementia in 2006, shawed a haud back in the oncome o senility an dementia in bilinguals.

The first study, furthset in 2004 bi Ellen Bailystock o York Univairsity in Toronto, Canada, discovert that symptoms o senility averaged oot at 71.4 year auld in monolingual fowk, agin 75.5 for thaim that wis bilingual.  The exemplar wis makit up fae English monolinguals an French-English bilinguals.

The difference steyed the same whan the level o eddication, gender, social staundin an kintrae o hamecomin wis taen intae conseideration.  Appearinlie, nae pharmalogical treatment haes sic an effeck as spectacular as the speakin o twa languages daes, accordin tae thae Canadian researchers.  They pyntit oot an aw that thae ootcomes wis still aye preliminary at thon time.

The 2006 study leukit intae the effeck o lifelang bilingualism an haudin on tae cognitive functionin an pittin aff the oncome o the symptoms o dementia in auld age.  The exemplar wis taen fae the records o 228 patients that wis referrit on tae a Memory Clinic wi cognitive complaints.  The hinnermaist exemplars indicatit that bilinguals shawed symptoms o dementia fower year later nor monolinguals.

Whan the study speiks aboot “lifelang bilingualism”, A wad think it meant bein able tae unnerstaund, speik, read, write an think in twa languages on a reglar basis ower a body’s lifetime.  A doot that lairnin French at the scuil an yaisin it yince in a blue muin widnae coont.  Naither wad English speikers that’s lairned thirsels hou tae scrieve in Scots but disnae speik it nor think in it for ordinar.  

A wad jalouse tho that the bairns that gauns tae the Gaelic medium scuils the day wad be yaisin baith Gaelic an English ilka day an wad maist like ken the guid o thae health benefits gien in the abuin report.  But juist think o aw the siller the Scottish NHS micht save ilka year if thae Gaelic medium scuils wis jyned bi Scots medium scuils an aw.  Ay, an whit for no?