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Language Choice and Code Switching Mansoor Al Surmi Mahishi Ranaweera Nataliya Rihs. Objectives. know the basic terminology related to the topic of code-switching; be familiar with the techniques used in this sub-field of sociolinguistics;

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Language choice and code switching mansoor al surmi mahishi ranaweera nataliya rihs l.jpg

Language Choice and Code SwitchingMansoor Al SurmiMahishi RanaweeraNataliya Rihs

Objectives l.jpg

  • know the basic terminology related to the topic of code-switching;

  • be familiar with the techniques used in this sub-field of sociolinguistics;

  • be able to distinguish between the various theoretical explanations.

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Outline of Presentation

  • Terminology/definitions

  • Methodology (Matched-guise technique)

  • Examples of Variationist Studies

  • Theoretical Explanations for Variation (determinist vs. accommodation)

  • Questions

  • Activity

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Language Choice Marked and Unmarked

  • It’s when speakers choose what language to use in diverse social situations in bi or multilingual communities.

    “Who speaks what language to whom and when?” Fishman (1965)

    - Marked- the language used would not be normally expected in a certain context.

    - Unmarked- Language used is one that would be expected in that context.

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Language Shift

  • Happens in bi/multi lingual communities when the functions carried out by one language are taken over by another; one language is replaced by another.

  • People start using one language over the other and this shift threatens the viability and may even eventually result in language death.

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Code Switching

  • Refers to “the use of words and structures from more than one language or linguistic variety by the same speaker within the same speech situation, conversation or utterance. Conversational code switching refers to the use of two languages by the same speaker within the same speech event.”

    Laura Callahan (2001)

  • This presentation will concentrate on code-switching in bi or multi lingual societies.

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Style Shifting

  • “By style…we mean to include any consistent…(set of) linguistic forms used by speaker… that can be associated with a set of topics, participants, channel, or the broader social context.”

    Labov (1994)

  • Mono lingual speakers need to choose which style to use according to the context and thus they switch between styles.

  • Speakers may style-shift within a single conversation.

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  • Speech Accommodation

    -Speakers change the way they spoke according to the person they were speaking to. We accommodate to others by adjusting our communicational behavior.

  • Convergence

    - Speakers tend to adopt similar styles to reduce the social distance. It is positively evaluated by speakers.

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Accommodation (cont’d.)

b) Divergence

-Speakers adopt different styles to emphasize their distinctiveness or increase their social distance. It is negatively evaluated by speakers.

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  • Matched guise

    -A measurement of language attitudes.

    -Technique used in social psychological studies to investigate people’s constant evaluation of personal qualities of others based on the use of linguistic varieties.

  • The use of certain language varieties carries certain social associations that affects the process of language maintenance and change.

  • Ex: Lambert et al asked listeners to rate the same speaker reading out a passage in English and in French. They found that both French Canadian and English Canadian listeners rated the English guises more favorably than the French guises.

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Variationist Studies

Language use is determined by factors such as social class, ethnic group, age and interlocutors’ relationship.

Language choice and code-switching is ‘habitual’: in practice certain languages tend to be associated with certain contexts.

1.Fishman(1972): In cases of stable bilingualism, certain language or variety will be used by particular classes of speakers on particular occasions and topics.

Domains of language use: institutional contexts and their congruent behavioral co-occurrences. Ex: family, employment, friendship, and government administration.

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Variationist Studies (cont’d.)

  • Carol Myers-Scotton

    The use of mother tongue as a means of maintaining ethnic identity and in securing certain material advantages.

    Language choice of English is linked to education, authority, and official use.

    Swahili is used with other ethnic groups.

    Languages convey certain meanings about the speakers and also index certain rights and obligations that speakers wish to obtain between themselves and others.

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Variationist Studies (cont’d.)

  • Susan Gal

    Hungarian is associated with traditional peasant life & German is the language of waged work and associated with modernity and economic success.

    Standard variety of Hungarian is appropriate for conveying personal involvement and emotion or with elder people.

    German enjoys a position of prestige compared to Hungarian and may cause death to Hungarian Language. ( Language Shift)

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Theoretical Explanations

  • Determinist Studies

    Speakers in part respond to the overt and covert prestige of different language varieties. (Labov & Trudgill)

    -Overt and covert prestige.

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Theoretical Explanations

  • Accommodation theorists

    Creativity involved in language behavior focusing on speakers’ use of different language varieties to express solidarity with or social distance from their interlocutors. (Howard Giles et al.)

    Speakers’ language use is viewed as a series of ‘acts of identity’, in which speakers seek to align themselves with, or distance themselves from, certain social groups.( Tabouret-Keller)

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  • All studies tend to see that speakers use different language varieties strategically as a means of negotiating, maintaining or changing relationships with others.

  • Context and social factors such as gender, socio-economic status, age, ethnic group play a role in language choice and code switching.

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Activity (handout)

  • Why did the speakers code switch?

  • What factors do you think determined the code switching choices?

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Thank you

Bohoma Sthuthi



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