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Code-switching is a term in linguistics referring to the use of more than one language or variety concurrently in conversation. Multilinguals, people who speak more than one language, can use elements of multiple languages when conversing with other multilinguals. Code-switching is the syntactically and phonologically appropriate use of multiple linguistic varieties.

Code-switching may be distinguished from other language-contact phenomena such as loan translation (calques), borrowing, pidgins and creoles, and transfer or interference. A pidgin forms when two sets of speakers who cannot speak each other's languages form an intermediate language; code-switching occurs when the speakers are fluent in both languages. A related term is code mixing. Although some scholars use the terms code-switching and code-mixing to refer to the same practices,[1] others use the term code-mixing to refer to the formal linguistic properties of such contact phenomena and code-switching to refer to actual language use by multilingual speakers.[2]

Code-switching can be related to and indicative of group membership in particular types of bilingual speech communities, such that the regularities of the alternating use of two or more languages within one conversation may vary to a considerable degree between speech communities.

Beginning in the 1940s and 1950s a number of scholars suggested that code-switching reflects sub-standard language ability.[3] Since the 1980s, however, most scholars have considered code-switching to be a normal and natural product of interaction between the bilingual or multilingual speaker's languages.[4]


[edit] Motivation

People code-switch for a number of reasons.

  • Code-switching can help an ethnic minority community retain a sense of cultural identity, in much the same way that slang is used to give a group of people a sense of identity and belonging, and to differentiate themselves from society at large.
  • Code-switching is a common means to shift footing[5] or context[6].
  • Using words or phrases from language-B while speaking language-A can be more convenient than trying to think of an appropriate language-A word.

Some research on code-switching in sociolinguistics focuses on the social motivations for switching, a line of inquiry concentrating both on immediate discourse factors such as lexical need and the topic and setting of the discussion, and on more distant factors such as speaker or group identity, and relationship-building (solidarity). Code-switching may also be reflective of the frequency with which an individual uses particular expressions from one or the other language in his/her daily communications; thus, an expression from one language may more readily come to mind than the equivalent expression in the other language.

One of the more complete theories of code switching within sociolinguistics is the Markedness Model, developed by Carol Myers-Scotton.[7] According to the markedness model, language users are rational, and choose a language that marks their rights and obligations relative to others in the conversational setting. When there is no clear unmarked choice, code switching is used to explore possible choices.

Many sociolinguists object to the markedness model, and to the suggestion that language choice is entirely rational.[8][9]

Competing sociolinguistic theories examine code-switching as language behavior, often using discourse analysis, ethnography, or other tools of sociolinguistic analysis. Scholars have described the effects that the use of multiple language varieties have on class, ethnicity, gender, or other identity positions.[10]

Scholars in interactional linguistics and conversation analysis also study code-switching as a means of structuring talk in interaction. Analysts such as Peter Auer suggest that code-switching does not simply reflect social situations, but is a means to create them.[11] A number of other conversation analysts have studied code-switching and its effects on bilingual conversation.[12]

[edit] Mechanics

Code-switching within a sentence tends to occur more often at points where the syntax of the two languages align; thus it is uncommon to switch from English to French after an adjective and before a noun, because a French noun normally "expects" its adjectives to follow it. It is, however, often the case that even unrelated languages can be "aligned" at the boundary of a relative clause or other sentence sub-structure.

Linguists have made significant efforts to define the differences between borrowing and code-switching.[6][13][14] Borrowing is generally said to occur within the lexicon, while code-switching occurs at the level of syntax or utterance construction.

Linguists have also studied syntactic and morphological constraints on where language alternation can occur. Such studies have postulated grammatical rules and specific syntactic boundaries for where a switch may occur. None of these suggestions are universally accepted, however, and linguists have offered apparent counter-examples to each proposed constraint.[1][15]

  • The free-morpheme constraint states that switching cannot occur between bound morphemes.[16]
  • The equivalence constraint says that code-switching can only take place in positions where "the order of any two sentence elements, one before and one after the switch, is not excluded in either language."[16] For example, the sentence "I like you porque eres simpatico" is allowed, since it obeys the rules for relative clause formation in both Spanish and English.
  • The closed-class constraint says that closed class items such as pronouns, prepositions or conjunctions cannot be switched.[17]
  • The Matrix Language Frame model distinguishes the roles of the participating languages.[18]
  • The functional head constraint says that code-switching cannot occur between a functional head (such as a complementizer, determiner or inflection) and its complement (a sentence, noun phrase or verb phrase).[19]

Note that some theories that make generalizable predictions, such as the closed-class constraint and the matrix language frame model, are based on specific assumptions about the nature of syntax. They are therefore controversial among linguists who make different theoretical assumptions. On the other hand, descriptions such as the equivalence constraint that are based on empirical analysis of corpora are relatively independent of choice of syntactic theory. The patterns discovered in these studies, however, can be rather different in various speech communities, even those sharing the same language pairs.[20]

[edit] Types

Scholars use different names for various types of switching.

  • Intersentential switching is switching outside the sentence or clause level, for example at sentence or clause boundaries.
  • Intra-sentential switching is switching within a sentence or clause.
  • Tag-switching is switching a tag phrase or word from language B into language A. (This is a common intra-sentential switch.)
  • Intra-word switching is switching within a word itself, such as at a morpheme boundary.

[edit] Examples

Ana Celia Zentella offers the following example of code-switching from her work with Spanish speakers in New York City.[21] In this example, Marta and her younger sister Lolita speak both Spanish and English with Zentella (ACZ) outside of their apartment building.

Lolita: Oh, I could stay with Ana?
Marta: - but you could ask papi and mami to see if you could come down.
Lolita: OK.
Marta: Ana, if I leave her here would you send her upstairs when you leave?
ACZ: I'll tell you exactly when I have to leave, at ten o'clock. Y son las nueve y cuarto. ("And it's nine fifteen.")
Marta: Lolita, te voy a dejar con Ana. ("I'm going to leave you with Ana.") Thank you, Ana.

Zentella explains that the children in this predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood speak both English and Spanish. "Within the children's network, English predominated but code switching from English to Spanish occurred once every three minutes on average."[21]

Paul Kroskrity gives the following example of code-switching by three older male Arizona Tewa speakers, who are trilingual in Tewa, Hopi, and English.[22] The topic concerns the selection of a site for a new high school on the eastern Hopi Reservation:

Speaker A: Tututqaykit qanaanawakna. ("Schools were not wanted." [spoken in Hopi])
Speaker B: Wédít’ókánk’egena’adi imbí akhonidi. ("They didn't want a school on their land." [spoken in Tewa])
Speaker C: Naembí eeyae nąeląemo díbít’ó’ámmí kąayį’į wédimu::di. ("It's better if our children go to school right here rather than far away." [spoken in Tewa])

In this two-hour conversation, these men had been speaking primarily in Tewa. However, when Speaker A makes a statement that considers the Hopi Reservation as a whole, he switches to Hopi. This usage of the Hopi language when speaking of Hopi-related issues is a conversational norm in the Arizona Tewa speech community. Kroskrity claims that these Arizona Tewa who identify both as Hopi and Tewa use the different languages to help construct and maintain these discrete ethnic identities linguistically.

[edit] Language and Communication

Code-Switching is researched heavily in the field of language and communication. Psycholinguistic research on code-switching is centered mainly around identifying some of the factors influencing the comprehension of code-switched words. Research has shown that bilinguals comprehend code-switched words faster when there is phonological overlap between the two languages. In other words, bilinguals will be more prone to produce words from a second language when those words sound similar to the first language. For example, Chinese-English bilinguals take longer to recognize English code-switched words in Chinese sentences if the English words contain initial consonant-consonant clusters (like the word fly, through, etc), because the Chinese language lacks this phonotactic structure. Other important factors reported to influence the recognition of code-switched words include:

  • Context (e.g., the situation and setting of the conversation)
  • Phonetics (e.g., The sounds of the words used in conversation)
  • Homophonony (e.g., words pronounced the same) and
  • Homography (e.g., words spelled the same)

Another very common factor in language and communication that influences the recognition of code-switched words is overlap between the two languages being spoken. If there is an audible or grammatical similarity, then a biligual will be more prone to code-switch in conversation.

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Bokamba, Eyamba G. (1989) Are there syntactic constraints on code-mixing? World Englishes, 8(3), 277-292.
  2. ^ Clyne, Michael. (2000) Constraints on code-switching: how universal are they? In Li Wei (ed.) The Bilingualism Reader. Routledge. See also Genessee, Fred (2000) Early bilingual language development: one language or two? in the same volume.
  3. ^ Weinreich, Uriel. (1953) Languages in Contact. The Hague: Mouton.
  4. ^ Goldstein, B. & Kohnert, K. (2005) Speech, language and hearing in developing bilingual children: Current findings and future directions. Language, Speech and Hearing services in Schools, 36, 264-267.
    • Gutierrez-Clellen, V. (1999) Language choice in intervention with bilingual children. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. 8, 291-302
    • Kohnert, K., Yim, D., Nett, K., Duran, P. F., & Duran, L. (2005) Intervention with linguistically diverse preschool children: A focus on developing home languages(s). Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools. 36, 251-263.
  5. ^ Goffman, Erving. (1979) Footing. Semiotica 25:1-29.
  6. ^ a b Gumperz, John J. (1982) Discourse Strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  7. ^ Myers-Scotton, Carol. (1993) Social Motivations for Codeswitching: Evidence from Africa. Oxford: Clarendon.
  8. ^ Auer, Peter (Ed.) (1998) Code-Switching in Conversation. London: Routledge.
  9. ^ Woolard, Kathryn. (2004) Codeswitching. In A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology. A. Duranti, ed. Pp. 73-94. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  10. ^ See, for example:
    • Heller, Monica. (1992) The Politics of Codeswitching and Language Choice. In Codeswitching. C. Eastman, ed. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    • Rampton, Ben. (1995) Crossing: Language and Ethnicity among Adolescents. London: Longman.
    • Pujolar, Joan. (2000) Gender, Heteroglossia and Power. A Sociolinguistic Study of Youth Culture. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
  11. ^ Auer, Peter. (1984) Bilingual Conversation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  12. ^ See, for example:
    • Li Wei. (1998) The 'Why' and 'How' Questions in the Analysis of Conversational Codeswitching. In Code-Switching in Conversation: Language, Interaction, and Identity. P. Auer, ed. Pp. 156-76. London: Routledge.
    • Sebba, Mark and Tony Wooton (1998) We, They and Identity: Sequential Versus Identity-Related Explanation in Code Switching. In Code-Switching in Conversation: Language, Interaction, and Identity. P. Auer, ed. Pp. 262-86. London: Routledge.
    • Cromdal, Jakob. (2001) Overlap in Bilingual Play: Some Implications of Code-Switching for Overlap Resolution. Research on Language and Social Interaction 34(4):421-51.
  13. ^ Poplack, Shana & Sankoff, David (1984) Borrowing: the synchrony of integration. Linguistics 22(269): 99-136.
  14. ^ Muysken, Pieter (1995) Code-switching and grammatical theory. In Milroy, L. & Muysken, P. (Eds.), One speaker, two languages: cross-disciplinary perspectives on code-switching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 177-198.
  15. ^ Bhatt, Rakesh M. (1995) Code-switching and the functional head constraint. In: Fuller, Janet et al., Proceedings of the Eleventh Eastern States Conference on Linguistics, Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, Ithaca, NY, pp. 1–12.
  16. ^ a b Sankoff, David, and Shana Poplack. (1981) "A Formal Grammar for Code-Switching." Papers in Linguistics 14(1-4), 3-45.
  17. ^ Joshi, Aravind. (1985) "How much Context-sensitivity is Necessary for Assigning Structural Descriptions: Tree Adjoining Grammars." In D. Dowty, L. Karttunen, and A. Zwicky (eds.) Natural Language Parsing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  18. ^ Myers-Scotton, Carol. (1997) Duelling Languages. Oxford University Press.
  19. ^ Belazi, Heidi, Edward Rubin, and Almeida Jacqueline Toribio. (1994) "Code Switching and X-Bar Theory: The Functional Head Constraint." Linguistic Inquiry 25(2), 221-237.
  20. ^ Poplack, Shana (2004) "Code-Switching". In Ammon, U., N. Dittmar, K.J. Mattheier and P. Trudgill (eds), Sociolinguistics. An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. 2nd edition.589-596.
  21. ^ a b Zentella, Ana Celia. (1997) Growing Up Bilingual. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  22. ^ Kroskrity, Paul V. (2000) Language ideologies in the expression and representation of Arizona Tewa identity. In P. V. Kroskrity (Ed.), Regimes of language: Ideologies, polities, and identities (pp. 329-359). Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.

[edit] See also

Selected bibliography

  • Alvarez, Celso. (1999) Codes. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9(1-2):28-31.
  • Bailey, Benjamin. (1999) Switching. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9(1-2):241-43.
  • Blom, Jan-Petter, and John J. Gumperz. (1972) Social Meaning in Linguistic Structures: Code Switching in Northern Norway. In Directions in Sociolinguistics: The Ethnography of Communication. J.J. Gumperz and D. Hymes, eds. Pp. 407–34. New York: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston.
  • Heller, Monica. (1988) Codeswitching: Anthropological and Sociolinguistic Perspectives. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Milroy, Leslie, and Pieter Muysken (1995) One Speaker, Two Languages: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Code-Switching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Poplack, Shana. (1980) "Sometimes I'll start a sentence in Spanish y termino en español": toward a typology of code-switching. Linguistics 18(7/8): 581-618.
  • Romaine, Suzanne. (1989) Bilingualism. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
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