Essay about The Study Of Code Switching

Essay about The Study Of Code Switching

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The study of code switching began in the mid-1970s with the work of the sociolinguist John J. Gumperz and Dell Hymes. Both investigated the communicative behavior within “speech communities”. Gumperz and Hymes defined “speech communities” as a, “group of speakers who share knowledge of the communicative constraints and options governing a significant number of social situations” (Diller). Gumperz and Hymes also fashioned the requirements needed to form a “speech community”. The requirements state, “All that is required is that there be at least one language in common and that rules governing basic communicative strategies be shared so that speakers can decode the social meanings carried by alternative modes of communication” (Diller). Once Gumperz had a foundation for his research, he, with the help of Jan-Peter Bloom, further developed the concept of code switching by studying varying dialects in both northern Norway and northern India. Gumpez and Bloom theorized the process of code switching conveys social meaning through the semantic model. The semantic model outlines the syntactic levels at which code switching takes place. These levels include: suffixes, words and phrases (noun, noun phrases, prepositional phrases, vocatives, and imperatives), whole sentences, sequences of sentences, and full text (Diller). Gumpez and Bloom based the semantic model on the concepts of “situational switching” and “metaphorical switching”. However, code switching does differ from “situational switching” and “metaphorical switching. The term situational switching occurs, “when participants redefine each other’s rights and obligations” (). For example, if a teacher wants to create an open discussion among his or her students, the teacher can use...


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...gh there are varying definitions of the term, at its core “code switching” is simply the individual’s change from one “code” to another to adapt their identity. Deriving from the terms “metaphorical switching” and “situational switching”, code switching is a combination of them both. However, code switching, metaphorical switching, and situational switching are not interchangeable terms. Metaphorical switching relies solely on the speaker’s change of topic within a conversation. Situational switching relies solely on how the individuals within a conversation influence each other’s roles. There are many functions of code switching, however the main purpose is to adapt one’s identity or role within an interaction. Meaning, the process of code switching can create solidarity or commonality between speakers of varied cultures/ethnicities, dialects, or societal levels.


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