Gafarnga, Joseph (2007) Talk in two languages

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Gafaranga Joseph (2007) Talk in Two Languages[edit]

Chapter 5 Interactional Order in Talk in Two Languages: Identity-Related Accounts[edit]

Joseph Gafaranga [1] a senior lecturer in Linguistics and English Language at the The University of Edinburgh has in his research explored the field of bilingual conversations and language alteration. In his book Talk in two languages he uses examples from his research both among bilingual Rwandans in Belgium and on a corpus of service encounters in Barcelona.

According to Gafaranga language alteration can from a grammatical perspective be seen as a question of order, working to what he calls the principle of “One-Situation- One Language”. In accordance to this principle the two languages are seen as separate and the speaker alternate between them in accordance to the situation – meaning the language most appropriate for the situation. Gafaranga is critical to such understanding of language alteration and argues that bilingual speakers often alternate between languages in the same situation and therefore he tries to find a pattern of orderliness to this alternation (2007:84).

Gafaranga uses the concept of diglossia to explore the issue of language alternation among bilinguals further. Using the definition made by Fergusson (1959) diglossia is defined as

…a relatively stable language situation in which, in addition to the primary dialects of the language (which may include a standard or regional standards), there is a very highly codified (often grammatically more complex) variety, the vehicle of a large and respected body of written literature, either of an earlier period or in another speech community, which is learned largely by formal education and is used for most written and formal spoken purposes but is not used by any section to the community for ordinary conversation (1959/2000:75 in Gafaranga 2007:86-87).

In the light of this definition, different varieties are separated and used by the speakers in different situations and for different function – in other words they are bound to certain domains. Linguist Joshua Fishman argues that diglossia doesn’t only exist in multilingual societies but is universal including all societies that has functionally differentiated language varieties of whatever kind (dialects, registers, sociolects etc.) (2007:88). But if diglossia doesn’t have to include an element of bi/multilingualism - does bilingualism always come together with diglossia? Gafaranga writes that bilingualism without diglossia is situations where people have access to two or more languages but doesn’t differentiate between them functionally (2007:89). Situations with bilingualism without diglossia can therefore be seen from a structural/functionalist perspective as abnormal.

Using the theories of interactional sociolinguistics, first developed by Gumperz, Gafaranga finds different tools in order to understand language alteration. The main focus in interactional sociolinguistics is to examine how linguistic variation, among other things, is used as a resource by speakers in actual face-to-face interaction (2007:92). However, the perspective on language alteration and/or code-switching developed by Gumperz is also based on the principle of One-Situation- One Language. Two forms of code-switching are possible in this perspective; situational code-switching and metaphorical code-switching. In situational code-switching language alteration occurs because of or as a way of negotiating appropriate changes in the speech situation (2007:96). Metaphorical code-switching on the other hand doesn’t apply with the norms for which language is appropriate for a certain situation, but uses the norm to deviance from it in order to serve as certain purpose. Therefore, but forms of code-switching can be understood as functional (2007:97).

The Markedness Model of Codeswitching was developed by Myers-Scotton and addresses the question of what motivates speakers to choose a certain language. Drawing from the principle of rational choice/rational behavior speakers chose in accordance with a normative framework, which language to speak in a certain situation (2007:107). The choice of language can be either marked or unmarked. Whereas the unmarked choice is the most expected and in accordance with the normative framework while the marked choice is the most unexpected and therefore challenges the norm (2007:108). In the marked code-switching the speaker can be seen to negotiate the context itself rather than just supplying information about it (2007:113). Through this model all kinds of code-switching can be seen as “normal” or unmarked if it follows the norms of the specific situation, including also types of code-switching which in a structural/functionalist perspective can only be explained as repairable deviance. In this view language alternation cannot be understood a choice between language A or B but also that the two languages exist interactionally – meaning that the code-switching in itself can be regarded a linguistic variety (2007:110). Such an understanding of code-switching challenges the basic assumption of the practice itself – the One-Situation- One Language principle and Gafaranga argues in favor of a One-Situation- One Variety principle instead (2007:110). The Markedness Model of Codeswitching goes beyond the functional understanding of code-switching and offers a view on the alternation as a normative conduct. As code-switching itself can be regarded as the unmarked choice the norm in certain contexts the assumption and norm of two separate languages and one language for one situation is challenged. Still two types of code-switching are not accounted for in the model – momentary departures into another language that are oriented to by participants themselves as repairable deviance and momentary language alternation which cannot be explained by reference to the values of the languages involved in the relevant community (2007:115).