« Others’ languages » use in electronics’ writings in professional and school settings: imposed or selected languages?

Régine Delamotte-Legrand, Cecile Desoutter

Laboratoire DYALANG (Fre 2787 CNRS - Université de Rouen) France

WS120: Code-switching in electronic writing: The levelling and maintaining of linguistic borders

This paper is based on a common issue and a comparative data in France and in Italy. The field research in France involves electronic exchanges on a chat platform produced by students from various nationalities. The people interviewed all attend a professional master at university in distance learning. At first sight, it seems that French language is the common language used by students. But, an expert look reveals elements of code-switching. The purpose of our research is twofold: 1) Understand the way these code-switching operate 2) Consider the students’ attitudes towards these writings. To do so, data collections involved two different sections. First, written corpus of exchanges was first collected. Then, students were interviewed. Interviews were lead into two distinct methods. First, we chose to conduct collective interviews, which proved to be very efficient as verbal relations do not only involved interviewees / interviewers. These “collective” interviews particularly suit a study on collective and shared experience: attend a class where French is a foreign language. We aim at eliciting the expression of all viewpoints on this specific written form. This collection of data appears as a “several voices speech” in a multilingual and multicultural setting in which people share the same experience: attend universities distance learning, common identity aspects etc. The second purpose of this communication is to go further in studying specific cases in relation with contexts and languages. In this communication, only the results that allow comparison with data collected in Italy will be studied. With this new data, we are in a professional case, where Italians use French to communicate at distance with French-speaking customers, suppliers or colleagues. As for the study carried out in France, the collection of data is articulated in two aspects: firstly, linguistic practices brought back by the professional subjects during individual talks; secondly, scriptural practices observed from a corpus of e-mails provided by these same subjects. The interviews make it possible to better determine the meaning given for the use of the foreign language in the interpersonal communication in a professional framework. The choice to communicate in French doesn’t prevent, however, that some elements of code-switching appearing that and there in the analyzed written corpus. The confrontation of the results of the two studies allows to better highlight what imposes, supports or on the contrary limits the uses of “others’ languages” in the produced electronic writings. It also makes it possible to locate the reasons of the use of mother tongue.

Session: Workshop (part 1)
Code-switching in electronic writing: The levelling and maintaining of linguistic borders
Friday, April 4, 2008, 13:45-15:15
room: 01