Codeswitching and ethnicity: Grammatical types of codeswitching in the Afrikaans speech community

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Codeswitching in its function as a marker of ethnicity within the same speech community has so far mostly been illustrated with case studies involving closely related codes (e.g. dialect/standard) rather than distinct standard languages. The purpose of this article is to show in how far Afrikaans-English codeswitching reflects in its grammatical forms ethnic divisions within the Afrikaans speech community. In order to answer this question, Muysken's threefold taxonomy of insertions, alternations and congruent lexicalization is used to categorize and quantify forms of Afrikaans-English codeswitching in the informal speech of three age cohorts distributed across seven samples of White and Coloured Afrikaans speakers from South Africa and Namibia. The analysis reveals that codeswitching patterns differ across the ethnic divide not only in terms of relative proportions of insertions, alternations and congruent lexicalization, but also in terms of specific grammatical or syntactic characteristics which these codeswitching types may assume. On the basis of some of these specific characteristics the conclusion is drawn that codeswitching practices remain to some degree conditioned by perceptions of ethnic group membership rather than by histories of language contact or typological distance between Afrikaans and English. KG.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-128
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language
Issue number199
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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