Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2006, 31 Pages
Term Paper (Advanced seminar)
3.) Accommodation Theory
3.1) the four socio- psychological theories
3.1.1) Similarity-attraction process
3.1.2) Social exchange process
3.1.3) Causal attribution process
3.1.4) Process of intergroup distinctiveness (by Tajfel)
3.2) Case study: establishing a speech micro-community
4.1) In Dakar
4.2) In Israel
5.) Code-mixing and accommodation in movies
5.2) love actually
5.3) my big fat Greek wedding
6.) Code-mixing and accommodation in conversations
Today, globalisation, the mass media and new technical innovations rule our modern world. All these factors include many foreign names which make it obligatory and important to be capable of English.
Social and technological changes are factors which favour bilingualism. In some cases, the acquisition of English already starts in Kindergarten. Children learn a second language and are aware, in the best case, of two languages afterwards. Bilingualism is also the result of the increasing number of parents who have different backgrounds and thus speak different languages. Children grow up bilingually and consequently they can switch without any problems from one to the other language. Mainly, both systems are fully known to bilingual speakers as Meeuwis and Blommaert (1998) claim. But which actions make bilinguals switch from one language to the other? It is argued that code-switching does not occur arbitrarily. Auer says that “reported speech, a change of the interlocutor, side-comments, a new topic etc., may lead to a change of language” (Auer, 1998: 120). Thus, many factors like the setting, the interlocutor, the social circumstances or the topic play an important role when choosing the code. Besides, using a code serves to express something. You can show solidarity or refusal, social integrity or distance, intimacy or coldness via certain codes. As we can see, the choice of a code depends on many different factors and sometimes it is important to be aware which code to choose because every choice carries meaning and is interpreted by the interlocutors.
In the following paper I will try to examine the phenomenon of code- switching with regard to the spin-offs Speech Accommodation Theory (chapter 3) and code-mixing (chapter 4). In the second part of my paper I will attempt to analyse the emergence of these spin-offs in different movies (chapter 5) and in everyday conversations (chapter 6).
“The basic principle of language style is that an individual speaker does not always talk the same way on all occasions” (Bell, 1997: 240). Differentiations can be made between intonation, grammar, lexicon, or pronunciation, but also between local dialect and standard speech. The choice depends on the person you are talking to, the environment and many other social factors. The words you are saying always carry some sort of meaning and it depends on the circumstances, personal desires etc. what meaning you want to carry over. So, style shifts occur according to topic, setting or audience.
The main interest of this paper lies in answering the questions, what is code-switching, why and in which situation do people do it, what different kinds of code-switching do occur and what kinds of approaches exist so far.
Carol Eastman points out that code-switching is “a natural way of speaking” (Eastman, 1995:3). Children for example, whose parents speak different languages, are able to switch back and forth between the languages. Mainly, they do so without recognizing it. Consequently, a mixture of the two languages becomes the unmarked code. However, the mixed language only occurs when the child is speaking to his parents who are capable of both languages, as well.
Two types of code-switching exist: the alternation between different languages or between different styles. The first relates to the switch for instance from English to Turkish which often occurs in Germany, for instance or switches between French and Swahili in Belgium. The second type refers to the change of codes between different dialects or varieties within the same language. Blom and Gumperz deal with this type of switching and distinguish between metaphorical and situational switching (Myers-Scotton, 1993b: 3). Situational code-switching refers to the social situation which may require a change in the linguistic behaviour. “[…] where [s]ituational switching involves change in participants and/or strategies, metaphorical switching involves only a change in topical emphasis” (Eastman, 1995: 5). Here, one can differentiate between an official and a private meeting. In metaphorical code-switching a linguistic code is used out of context to evoke a different social meaning. The situation remains the same but the situation is given a new character by using another style. A private talk may be informal, whereas the style would change in an official surrounding, even though the interlocutors stay the same. (Blom & Gumperz: 116-117).
Sebba and Wootton (1998) distinguish between we-code and they-code. The first refers to the language at home and family. The second refers to the language of socio economic advancement and to institutions. It is less personal and more formal and people do not want to identify with it.
Often, people are not aware of switching or mixing between different varieties, like for example speakers of Urban Wolof in Senegal. Speakers of Urban Wolof, as Swigart shows, are not aware of the fact that they were mixing Wolof and French. Urban Wolof is the unmarked code in Dakar. Speakers became monolingual in a mixed code (Meeuwis & Blommaert, 1998: 5). However, this phenomenon will be discussed in chapter 5.
On the whole, three main approaches to code-switching exist: the grammatical, the sociolinguistic and the conversational approach. In the grammatical approach the focus lies on the micro-level. How code-switching works, grammatical features like syntax and morphology, matrix and embedded language etc. are in the centre of interest. In this approach, no personal interpretation is possible because of fixed rules. No background information is needed in order to analyse a conversation and reasons for code-switching are not considered. The distinction by Eastman between inter-sentential and intra-sentential code-switching belongs to this approach. This is that speakers may either switch codes within the same sentence (intra-sentential) or between sentences (inter-sentential). Myers-Scotton differentiates between three types of intra-sentential code-switching. Either two languages are combined in the same sentence, or it is entirely in the matrix language or entirely in the embedded language. The matrix language is the main language, whereas the embedded language refers to other languages which play a minor role in society (Myers-Scotton, 1993b: 3-4). She introduced the production-based Matrix Language Frame (MLF) model. It sets the grammatical frame which consists of morpheme order and system morphemes. So, the framework to start the analysis with is analysed, but motivations and the circumstances are left out. Here we come to the next approach, the sociolinguistic one. Sociolinguistics deal with the “understanding of language behaviour with regard to the context in which it was spoken” (Giles/Smith, 1979: 46). This approach is so to say community based; factors like identification, background, the situation, the time etc. gives material to answer the question “why?”. The political situation, the relationship between the interlocutors etc. are regarded in order to find out why people choose which code. Supporters of sociolinguistic approach were, for example Milroy and L Wei. This one may form the basis for the last approach, the conversation analytical one, which was introduced by Peter Auer at first. It combines aspects of the two previous introduced approaches. It is concerned with the participants and the setting and concentrates on individual utterances. Meanings and reasons for code-switching were not fixed beforehand but emerged in the course of the conversation. Researchers of this field were Auer, Sebba, Milroy and Li Wei. Analysts of this approach try to find out why bilinguals switch from one language to another in conversations (Auer, 1998:157).
Linguists came to the conclusion that the setting influences the language. The language changes due to the people we are talking to or due to the location. In an official meeting the speech is much more formal than in a conversation at home. Besides, our grammar is much simpler when we talk to children and the pace much slower when we talk to a foreigner, for instance (Giles/Smith, 1979: 46). Researchers tried to find out the rules and norms which govern the existence of different varieties of languages. One kind of social motivation for code-switching could be accommodation (Winford, 2003:39). In the next chapter this phenomenon will be described more detailed.
With accommodation the modification of the speech style to the hearer is meant. Speakers can accommodate their speech to their interlocutor. Different studies about code-switching for purposes of accommodation have been done. Van den Berg found out that interlocutors accommodated equally to each other’s code-choice, which depended on the setting (Winford, 2003:121). In public buildings the client converged upwardly to the clerk, who on the other side converged downwardly to the client. Winford says that “the greater a speaker’s need to achieve social approval […] the greater the degree of convergence will be” (Winford, 2003:121). So, accommodation is an act of identity by which speakers try to find their position in the conversation. The term convergence, as Giles and Smith (1979) say, means that people alter their speech style in order to be more like the person they are talking to. Consequently, the language assimilates during a conversation and dissimilarities are reduced. “[…] the speaker and the listener have shared a common set of interpretative procedures which allow the speaker’s intentions to be (i) encoded by the speaker, and (ii) correctly interpreted by the listener” (Giles/Smith, 1979: 46f.). But the way people talk can also be misunderstood and different interpretations are possible. Speakers have certain intentions and desires for any conversation, so accommodating to the interlocutor may also be a communicative strategy.
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