Hudson’s Sociolinguistics: Code-switching and Code-mixing

Mixture of Varieties

Code-switching

He says that code-switching exist in a multilingual community where a speaker can choose to use a language that fits a particular circumstance or better understood by the hearer. A particular language can be for church, school, or work. He calls this situational code-switching. It is necessary to maintain the different languages instead of just one understood by all the people in the community because of social distinctions that they symbolize.

Metaphorical code-switching is a case where the choice of language determines the situation (Bloom and Gumperz).

Code-mixing

In code-switching, the point at which the languages change corresponds to a point where the situation changes, either on its own or precisely because the language changes. There are other cases where a fluent bilingual talking to another bilingual changes language without any change at all in the situation (Code-mixing or conversational code-switching). This is necessary probably to get the right effect where neither of the two languages may be the best for the discussion.

Borrowing

Borrowing means mixing language systems by borrowing an item from one language to become part of the other language. Examples Karaoke (Japanese) Paella (Spanish) Schnapps (German) etc. use borrowed words to pretend to be a native speaker with whatever social characters that can be associated with the stereotype. Also, this is done because there is no other word to address the situation been discussed.

Borrowing does not stop at word level, also inflectional morphology of a language may be borrowed as Mbugu appears to have borrowed a Bantu inflectional system from some Bantu neighbours (Goodman 1971)

Pidgin

 

These are varieties created for very practical and immediate purpose of communication between people who do not speak the same language and learn from one another. It may be called trade language as this situation is encountered usually in trade. It is a variety created for communication with some other group, and not used by any community for communication among themselves.

Pidgin is expected to be simple to learn. Its vocabulary is likely to be dominated by that of the dominant group. Those to benefit from it are usually the ones who will be more interested in learning it; consequently, they take the vocabulary from the other group. A pidgin that develops from the influence of colonialism is likely to be based on the language of the colonial power especially if it is in the interest of the local population. It basically lacks morphology.

Hudson says that pidgins cannot be considered a bad variety of any specific language. It is itself a language with a community of speakers who pass it from one generation to another. A pidgin has no native speakers as it is used only for communication between members of different communities.

Creoles

A pidgin which has acquired native speakers is called a Creole language, or Creole. This occurs through a process called creolisation. This happens mostly during slavery among African slaves taken to new environment where they have to device a means to communicate among themselves.

Decreolisation can occur when Creole speakers tend to shift towards the source-language which has more prestige than the Creole. This process would produce a range of intermediate varieties. The Creole is eventually called basilect and the prestige language, the acrolect, with the intermediate variety called mesolect. The range of varieties spanning the gap between basilect and acrolect is called a “post-Creole continuum.”

He ends that no clear difference between pidgins and creoles, apart from the fact that creoles have native speakers and pidgins do not.

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