Carol M. Eastman
Table of contents

The phenomenon of codeswitching has, in recent years, received a great deal of attention, and articles on the topic have appeared in most parts of the world. Apart from the recognition that codeswitching refers to language, dialect or style alternation within a single speech event, there is little agreement as to how it fits into existing linguistic, sociolinguistic and social theories. As Swigart (1992: 16) noted, scholars who study codeswitching come from a number of disciplines and are influenced by the backgrounds they bring to bear on the subject. The result of this is a fragmentation in the study of codeswitching: apart from a relatively small tradition focused (almost) exclusively on the characteristics of codeswitching itself, the phenomenon is often mentioned or treated in the context of wider issues, without being the object of investigation in its own right. Thus, for instance, codeswitching is treated by anthropologists such as Fabian (1982, 1990) to illustrate more general issues of poetic performance in an emerging urban culture; for some sociolinguists, it becomes an object of study in the context of intercultural communication (e.g. Hinnenkamp 1987); still others use codeswitching as a test-case for general theoretical issues (e.g. Stroud 1992); social psychologists may use codeswitching as a symptom of linguistic, ethnic or class attitudes, or as a feature of ‘speech accommodation’ (e.g. Bourhis, Giles & Lambert 1975).

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