Different types of contact phenomena as a way of reacting to linguistic pressure

Kuehl, Karoline H.

Universität Flensburg, Germany


Contact phenomena differ in their visibility: Whereas the alternational type of code-switching is clearly visible, as it includes a change of language on the surface level, convergence is ‘invisible’ as there is no obvious change of the language spoken on the surface level. The aim of this paper is to show that these differing contact phenomena are used to create ‘linguistic sabotage’ against monolingual linguistic pressure but also to submit to the imposed monolingual norm. The data presented are recordings of 76 participants (12-14 year old) in three different minority schools, which have been collected as a part of the project ‘Divergierender bilingualer Sprachgebrauch bei Jugendlichen’ funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. The settings were the Danish and German minorities on each side of the Danish-German border. Both minorities have their own schools in which the official norms for language use is that languages should not be mixed, and that the minority language should be the main medium of communication. Typically, though, the minority language (Standard Danish and German, respectively) is the L2 of the children attending the minority schools. In most cases the L1 will be the majority language, German and the Danish dialect South Jutish, respectively.

In the German minority schools in Southern Denmark, the ‘visible’ alternational kind of codeswitching – for reasons like lexical gaps - between German and South Jutish is accepted by the teachers. Switches to South Jutish are accepted too, at least in more informal contexts. So it seems like there is almost no linguistic pressure working here. Accordingly, the recordings show that ‘visible’ code-switching is used a lot, in average an insertion every 50 seconds. Compared to this, ‘invisible’ convergences are rarely used (every 7 minutes and 30 seconds).

In the Danish minority schools in Northern Germany the ‘visible’ alternational kind of code-switching or a switch to German (L1) are definitely not an accepted verbal practice. Teachers will correct the students, more or less harshly, if they do. A quantitative analysis of the recordings from these schools shows an accordingly quite different use of code-switching: In average, insertions are produced every 2 minutes and 30 seconds, while convergences are produced every 3 minutes. The two minorities compared, it becomes clear that the students of the Danish minority produce a lot more ‘invisible’ contact phenomena. It seems like they use the convergences to get over lexical gaps without violating the norm that languages should not be mixed – the monolingual surface makes this practice supposedly acceptable. On the other hand, we find many more cases of intentionally used ‘extreme’ bilingual speech, which seems to be a kind of ‘linguistic sabotage’ against the monolingual norms.

The talk will present a model of this correlation between types of contact phenomena and linguistic norms.

Carstensen, Astrid und Karoline Kühl (2007) Unterschiedliche Ausnutzung bilingualer Ressourcen. In: Flensburger Universitätszeitschrift 2007, 1

Jaspers, Jürgen (2005) Linguistic sabotage in a context of monolingualism and standardization. In: Collins, J. (Hg.) Multilingualism and diasporic populations. Journal of Language and Communication, S. 279-297

Session: Paper session
Code-Switching 3
Thursday, April 3, 2008, 15:45-17:15
room: 10