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Re: RE: [code-switching] Is CS deliberate?

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  • James Andrew McLellan
    The answer to this question seems to be very much context-dependent, as ever in code-switching research. It was posed by Tim Greer in the context of
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 9, 2003
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      The answer to this question seems to be very much context-dependent, as
      ever in code-switching research. It was posed by Tim Greer in the
      context of international schools, with reference to both classrooms and
      the playground. Such a context involves young people who are presumably
      still acquiring or learning their second, third or xth language, and a
      potential or actual clash between gatekeepers’ policy on language use
      and actual practice.

      Evidence from East Asia suggests that “the switching of codes in
      written printed material is deliberate and intentional” (Yau M.S.,
      1993: 25). David Li’s (1996) monograph on bilingualism and
      biculturalism in Hong Kong, especially the (ch. 3) taxonomy of
      linguistic motivations for Cantonese-English switching, sheds further
      light on the written CS issue (discussed previously in this list –
      check the archive).

      I’m trying to address this issue in my own research involving
      Malay/English CS in on-line discussion forum postings, where bilingual
      participants post messages sometimes in Malay only, sometimes in
      English only, but often in codemixed Malay-English. Choices here are
      deliberate, since they have time to plan and make choices before
      submitting the message, unlike in real-time face-to face conversational
      interaction.

      Clearly this is very different context from that of an international
      school. Shows how hard it is in this field to make any claims of
      universal validity – just look at the linguistic “constraints”
      tradition of research!

      Refs.: (yes to overciting vs. underciting!)
      Li, D.C.S.(1996)Issues in Bilingualism and Biculturalism: a Hong Kong
      Case Study. New York, Peter Lang.
      Yau, M.S. (1993) Functions of two codes in Hong Kong Chinese. World
      Englishes 12(1), pp. 25-33.


      James McLellan,
      Curtin University of Technology,
      Perth, Australia.
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