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Fwd: Re: [code-switching] RFI: Extent of multilingalism in communities

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  • Don Osborn
    This response may be of interest. Note mention of multiliteracy. DZO ... wrote: I don t know if anybody has any statistics on this issue, e.g.
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 22, 2004
      This response may be of interest. Note mention of multiliteracy. DZO

      --- In code-switching@yahoogroups.com, "Harold F. Schiffman"
      <haroldfs@c...> wrote:
      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).

      Hal Schiffman


      On Wed, 22 Dec 2004, Donald Z. Osborn wrote:

      >
      >
      > This is an interesting question (seen on the Linguist list) that I
      thought worth
      > passing on.
      ...
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