IN THE THIRD LANGUAGE ACQUISITION PROCESS
The aim of this study is to investigate attitudes towards personal bilingualism and multilingualism and to determine if there is a cross-linguistic influence in the third language acquisition process, how and how often it occurs, according to a personal perception of the phenomenon of the individual multilingualism among students at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad. In Vojvodina, the officially used languages are: Serbian, Hungarian, Slovak, Croatian, Romanian and Ruthenian (AP of Vojvodina Statute („Službeni list APV” br.17/09)). At the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad bilingualism, multilingualism and the majority language has been traditionally studied since its foundation (Mikeš 1961, 1964, 1965, 1991; 1998; Mikeš i Vlahović 1966; 1967; Mikeš i Savić 1972, 1973, 1974; Genc 1973, 1979, 1981, 1985, 1991; Međeši 2009; Tir 2002; Horakova 2002; Puja-Badesku 2009). The empirical data include two groups of answers: answers that the first year (2011/12) bilingual female (74) and male (26) students (mean age 21;8) gave to questions about their mother tongue, second and third language and cross-linguistic influence in a questionnaire and answers that the trilingual alumni of the same faculty (44 years old) gave in their oral history. The questionnaire includes questions about mother tongue, second and third language, as well as about cross-linguistic influences. The questions in the semi-structured interview for the oral history are about the same topics. The obtained data are analyzed according to the combination of Hungarian as Finno-Ugric language and Slavic (Serbian/Croatian, Ruthenian, Slovak, Ukrainian, Polish, Russian), Germanic (German, English), and Romance languages (Romanian, French, Italian, Spanish) as Indo-European languages. The obtained results confirm the contemporary findings in bilingualism and multilingualism research and show the following: 1. bilingualism has a positive influence on third language acquisition regardless of their typological characteristics (Cenoz 2001; Jessner 2007) and in this research it is confirmed for combination of languages: Hungarian as Finno-Ugric language and Slavic (Serbian/Croatian, Ruthenian, Slovak, Ukrainian, Polish, Russian), Germanic (German, English) and Romance languages (Romanian, French, Italian, Spanish) as Indo-European languages; the second language has a greater influence on the third language acquisition process than the first one (Williams and Hammarberg 1998; Bardel and Falk 2007), if the competence is on the high level, the second language exposure frequent and long, and if the second and the third language are typologically similar; the linguistic knowledge is transferred subconsciously, more often in informal than in formal situations, as it is confirmed in other studies (Hoffmann 2007); description as a communicational strategy is more often used than creation of hybrid forms; qualitative analysis of the obtained answers in oral histories confirm results obtained by the questionnaire, but it also reveals various nuances that cannot be found using questionnaire, about the context, personal experiences and abilities to use metalinguistic awareness in the language learning process. In spite of the fact that trilingualism is the future in the civilization evolution and in the educational system, even starting at the preschool level, there is not enough literature about the phenomenon. According to the results obtained in this research, although they are not absolutely reliable, since they depend on a personal judgment of the phenomenon, it is possible to redefine existing theories and to describe metalinguistic abilities again when typologically similar and different languages spoken in Vojvodina are in question.
Keywords: individual bilingualism, institutional bilingualism, trilingualism, multilingualism, cross-linguistic influence