Fwd: Re: [code-switching] RFI: Extent of multilingalism in communities
- This response may be of interest. Note mention of multiliteracy. DZO
--- In email@example.com, "Harold F. Schiffman"
I don't know if anybody has any statistics on this issue, e.g. in
South Asia, where lots of people are multilingual, but here's what I
know about that area, at least. Statistics aren't available because
the Census of India doesn't ask a lot of questions about these
issues, and because they tend to think people aren't multilingual if
they aren't *multiliterate* and very few people are. There are some
famous situations, such as Gumperz and Wilson's study of "Kupwar"
where people were supposedly trilingual, and code-switched back and
forth between Marathi, Urdu, and Kannada. Their focus was on how the
3 codes had tended to merge (or converge), especially grammatically,
but then this happens to a large extend in S. Asia anyway.
But the rest tends to be anecdotal--I had a friend who was from a
Kannada speaking home environment, born in the Tamilnadu town of
Salem, and grew up in a neighborhood that was largely Telugu-
speaking. In the larger environment and at school he learned spoken
Tamil and Literary Tamil, and then became a teacher of English. He
was also a creative writer, which he did in Tamil. He was thus
pentilingual, but some of his codes were pretty minimal; even with
his children he tended to speak Tamil, but denied that he
had "become" a Tamil speaker, or had "switched" languages.
It does tend to be the case in India at least that the
multilingualism is kept alive if there is division of labor, i.e. you
speak X in the marketplace, or Y with the Y community, and there is
also gender differentiation--one Kannada writer I know said as a
child he spoke Kannada on the front porch of his home and Tulu in the
back yard (with the women).
On Wed, 22 Dec 2004, Donald Z. Osborn wrote:
> This is an interesting question (seen on the Linguist list) that I
> passing on.