Codeswitching from English Essays

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The use of codeswitching between English and other languages is examined from a sociolinguistic perspective. It will be shown that codeswitching is instinctive and achieves overarching objectives such as serving the outcome of speech, defining identity and indirectly delineating aspects of the relationship between the participants, it 'lubricates' the conversation by making it more 'fluid', and when English is used, brings clarity and precision, particularly to formal arrangements. Finally codeswitching from English as a component of 'metrolinguistics' will be considered in relation to the data provided.

The extracts are between G. D. Jayalakshmi, known as Jaya, who normally speaks English (but also Kannada, a south Indian language
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266), in which language choice signals identity 'projection'. This assertion might be challenged on the grounds of the need for a spontaneous response in a telephone call, giving insufficient time for a 'considered' language choice.

The second extract, between Jaya and Prathiba is conducted almost entirely in Kannada, as they have known each other for many years, and have a much closer working relationship. However the English words 'paperwork' and 'legal clarification' are used in 2.5, which is otherwise spoken in Kannada. These are 'loanwords' and fill a vocabulary gap (Ibid. p. 264), for as Jaya says in her commentary 'I don't even know what the Kannada equivalent is', she refers to them as 'work words' that are automatically 'embedded' into Kannada. Another example of embedding can be found at 4.9 where 'sixth' is used in a sentence spoken in Kannada, as Jaya comments 'we often embed English numbers into Kannada'.

At the beginning of excerpt 3 Jaya chooses to use Hindi rather than English, with her brother, who is on holiday visiting their father in India. Hindi was the language of their childhood in north India and this allows her to be more personal and rebuke him over her difficulty in reaching him on the telephone, so using Hindi in 3.1 she says 'and then I spoke to the entire world'. This use demonstrates an aspect of 'stable bilingualism' (Ibid. p. 294) in a multilingual family, in this context it can be called 'language maintenance' (Ibid.) and it is…