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Robert Nicolaï

Cecilia Montes-Alcalá

Technology, and the Internet in particular, have rapidly transformed the means of communication in the 21st century, opening the door to a novel and fertile ground of research. What takes place when bi- or multilingual individuals sit at the keyboard has been the focus of several studies exploring computer-mediated communication (cmc). However, there appears to be a lack of research dealing specifically with Spanish-English language mixing online, a surprising fact given that Spanish is the third language of the Internet and its use has grown 800% in the last decade. The present work analyzes and compares data from three different sources of cmc (e-mail, blogs, and social networks including Facebook and Twitter) among Spanish-English bilinguals in an attempt to further explore the still relatively new field of “electronic code-switching”. The study aims to outline the reasons behind bilingual individuals’ language mixing online, hypothesizing that it will accomplish many of the socio-pragmatic functions traditionally ascribed to oral code-switching along with, perhaps, other uses idiosyncratic of cmc. Furthermore, it intends to emphasize the cultural nature of code-switching, a crucial component that has often been overlooked in the search for grammatical constraints.

Anna Verschik

The paper applies the Code Copying Framework (ccf) to Estonian-Russian language contacts in Live Journal blogs. The nature of blogs (an asynchronous, more written-like genre) allows us to look into individual multilingual practices and to discover aspects of contact-induced change that are absent in oral communication (choice of script, rendition of other-language items etc). ccf distinguishes between global copying (akin to code-switching/borrowing in other frameworks), selective copying (phenomena in morphosyntax, semantics etc) and mixed copying. The latter means that one component of a complex item is a global copy and the other a selective one and occurs in multi-word items (compounds, constructions, analytic forms, idioms). Six types of mixed copies are analysed. It is argued that this type of copying requires closer attention because 1) it demonstrates what is perceived as a collocation or multiword unit by a multilingual user; 2) it contributes to the understanding of meaning (semantically specific components are likely to be copied globally; 3) it is in accordance with notions in cognitive linguistics (compositionality, blending).

Judith Buendgens-Kosten

This paper looks at code-alternations in the language-learning blogging community “Lang-8”. In this community, users write blog posts in their target language and receive feedback and corrections from native speakers. 116 blog posts with the target language English are analyzed in detail. Around 2/3 of those blog posts avoided all code-alternations. Among the remaining third, the most frequently observed type of code-alternation involved translation of part or all of the blog post (interlinear translation and en bloc translation), or switches motivated by lexical need (complex lexical gaps). Quoting, other sentence-level switches and word-level switches for meta-linguistic discussion were rare.

The author argues that technological affordances, different understandings of one’s audience and of the language learning process, and, to a limited degree, community norms, shape code-alternations and their avoidance.

Sandra Barasa

Code-switching (cs) is a common occurrence in spoken language among bilingual and multilingual language speakers. This makes its use a customary practice in Computer Mediated Communication (cmc) genres as used by such speakers. This study examines instances of Code-switching in the Computer Mediated Communication data collected in order to find out whether code-switching in cmc is equivalent to code-switching in spoken language in terms of spontaneity, motivation and discourse functions. The study is based on previous studies in code-switching, for example, Gumperz (1982), and Myers-Scotton (1992). These studies point to the fact that code-switching in spoken language can be “conscious and deliberate” when it is motivated by various factors. The examined cmc data is derived from Kenyan University students and is in form of messages from various cmc genres including sms text messages, e-mail, Instant Messages and Social Network Sites such as Facebook and YouTube. The languages in focus are Swahili, English and vernacular languages which are spoken in Kenya. The findings suggest that although code-switching in cmc is to some extent similar to spoken code-switching in terms of language manifestation and deliberateness, its discourse functions reveal features that are specific to cmc contexts. The study concludes that code-switching in cmc should be viewed and treated as a unique and distinct entity from spoken-code-switching in order to capture its inherent attributes.

Benny De Decker, Reinhild Vandekerckhove and Dominiek Sandra

Written chatspeak is said to be marked by two basic principles: (1) write like you speak and (2) write as fast as possible. As for Flemish chat language, the first principle seems to result in a multilayered mixed code, in which dialectical, substandard Flemish and standard Dutch features interact in an eclectic way. In addition, most of the chatters insert English words in their chat discourse as well. This intensive code mixing is assumed to be – at least to a considerable extent – a reflection of the daily speech of these Flemish chatters. But what about the validity of this assumption? Can chatspeak function as an alternative dataset for the study of (spoken) language variation and change and thus as a research tool for e.g. the study of Flemish teenage talk and the representation of non-standard speech in spoken interaction? The dependent variables for the present test case are two substandard Flemish (or ‘tussentaal’) features that urge the chatters to violate the second principle, since their use implies an extension of the utterance. The central question is whether the second principle prevents the use of these substandard forms in Flemish chatspeak. In other words, do the analyses undermine the validity of using written chat corpora as a graduator for speech variation? We finish with a small excursion on the use of English by the Flemish chatters: can we separate English insertions that are triggered by the chat medium from English insertions that are not?


Marielle Prins

A Grammar of rGyalrong, Jiǎomùzú (Kyom-kyo) dialects. A Web of Relations is the first full length description in English of a rGyalrong language. Marielle Prins describes the phonology, morphology and syntax for one variety of these under-researched and threatened languages. From a host of examples and texts emerges a clear picture of natural language use, creating an enduring record and a great resource for comparative and diachronic linguists. Careful analysis of the data uncovers the web of relations between individuals and all entities in their environment, to which the rGyalrong people attach great importance. The informative, clear style of writing makes this book a treasure trove for linguists as well as other interested readers.