Friday, April 18, 2008

Code, Pidgin, Planning

Code-Switching and Code-Mixing

New Delhi is an international city, where different languages come together. Whenever there are languages in contact, there will be code-switching and code-mixing.

"Code" refers to any distinct languages or dialects. Code-switching and code-mixing refer to the phenomenon that speakers shift from one language to another during communication. However, there are differences between code-switching and code-mixing.

People (particularly bilinguals or multilinguals) intentionally switch from one language or dialect to another due to factors such as situations, subject, feeling and sense of belonging. It is often well-motivated and is on phrase or sentence level (inter-sentential).

People incorporate small units (words or short phrases) from one language or dialect to another one. It is often unintentional and is on word level (intra-sentential).

Let's look at some examples for code-switching and code-mixing:

Code-switching examples:
Bilinguals or multilinguals are more capable of code-switching, as they have rich knowledge in certain languages. Sometimes they switch codes under social factors. People switch code due to the presence of a new person. Such switching is due to social factors and it symbolise respect to the new comer. For example, when two university students are talking in Punjabi/Hindi, they switch code to English and say, "Good morning, Dr. Walker", as Dr. Walker speaks English.

People may switch code for certain topic during discussion. It is because they learn vocabulary of certain subjects in one language, so that they often prefer discussing such topics in one language rather than another. For example, when three Biharis who are studying in Patiala are discussing some phenomenon in Punjabi, they switch code from Bhojpuri or Maithili to Punjabi, as they receive such knowledge through Punjabi.

When speakers quote something (e.g. another person's saying or proverb), they switch codes in order to make it accurate. For example, student A (Punjabi speaking) is talking to student B about what Dr. Billington (English speaking) told him: "Well done! You've done a good job.”

Code-mixing examples:
Although both Hindi and English are official languages in Punjab, in certain sense spoken English does not appear in daily communication in general. There is peer pressure against using English (except code-mixing) for oral communication among rural Punjabi people. This leads to the code-mixing features in Punjab. If there are no alternate expressions in informal Punjabi, code-mixed English sometimes serves "gap-filling function". For example:
1. Bathroom2. Wait
3. Time

In order to avoid unpleasant words, people mix from one code to another.

For example: 1. tolt (toilet).

During code-mixing, English words tend to be integrated into Punjabi grammar. For example: 1. Confirm 2. Vehicle

Pidgin and Creole Languages
Originally thought of as incomplete, broken, corrupt, not worthy of serious attention, Pidgins still are marginal: in origin (makeshift, reduced in structure), in attitudes toward them (low prestige); in our knowledge of them.
Some quick definitions:
1. Pidgin language is nobody's native language; may arise when two speakers of different languages with no common language try to have a makeshift conversation. Lexicon usually comes from one language, structure often from the other. Because of colonialism, slavery etc. the prestige of Pidgin languages is very low. Many pidgins are `contact vernaculars', may only exist for one speech event.

2. Creole (orig. person of European descent born and raised in a tropical colony) is a language that was originally a pidgin but has become nativized, i.e. a community of speakers claims it as their first language. Next used to designate the language(s) of people of Caribbean and African descent in colonial and ex-colonial countries (Jamaica, Haiti, Mauritius, RĂ©union, Hawaii, etc.)
3. Relexification The process of substituting new vocabulary for old. Pidgins may get relexified with new English vocabulary to replace the previous Portuguese vocabulary, etc.

Pidgin and Creole (hereafter P/C) studies have emerged as important challenges to linguistic theory and method. Interest in the field has grown along with the growing recognition of the cultural significance of these languages, and P/C material has mushroomed, including books, theses, articles, conference proceedings, and working papers, as well as sound recordings and religious and secular writing in Creole languages. Several universities offer regular coursework in P/C studies and related topics, and a few libraries have special Pidgin/Creole collections.
By definition Pidgins and Creoles involve language mix, and currently spoken Creole languages arose as a direct result of European Colonial expansion. Between 1500 and 1900, there came into existence, on tropical islands and in isolated sections of tropical littorals, small, autocratic, rigidly stratified societies, mostly engaged in monoculture, which consisted of a ruling minority of some European nation and a large mass of (mainly non-European) labourers, drawn in most cases from many different language groups. Speakers of different languages at first evolved some form of auxiliary contact language, native to none of them, known as a Pidgin
(1), and this language, suitably expanded, eventually became the native or Creole (2) language of the community that exists today. These Creoles were in most cases different enough from any of the languages of the original contact situation to be considered "new" languages. Superficially, their closest resemblance was to their European parent, but this was mainly because the bulk of vocabulary items were drawn from that source, and even here there were extensive phonological and semantic shifts. In general then, the term Creole is used to refer to any language which was once a Pidgin and which subsequently became a native language; some scholars have extended the term to any language, ex-Pidgin or not, that has undergone massive structural change due to language contact. It is this extended definition that is followed in this guide, treating as it does creolized and simplified languages in the broadest sense of the terms.

Language Planning
Language planning is generally defined as an intervention intended to influence language or language use. Cooper (1989) defines language planning as "deliberate efforts to influence the behavior of others with respect to the acquisition, structure, or functional allocation of their language codes" (p. 45). Blommaert (1996) extends the scope of language planning "to cover all cases in which authorities attempt, by whatever means, to shape a sociolinguistic profile for their society" (p. 207). The objectives are usually social, political, or economic in character. Language planning is the factual realization of language policy. To the extent that policies are deliberately and consciously created, they usually involve some form of planning (Herriman & Burnaby, 1996).
Several scholars have argued that even when there is no official language policy, the linguistic status quo becomes the implicit policy (Herriman & Burnaby, 1996; Schiffman, 1996). An example of this is the situation in the United States, where there is no explicit, formalized language policy at the federal level. The Constitution does not mention an official or national language, although the document itself was written in English. English, however, is the de facto official language. It is the primary (and in some cases exclusive) language used in education, business, government (state, federal, and local), and the media. The strength of this language policy lies in the basic assumptions that U.S. society makes about language (Schiffman, 1996), including the role the English language plays as a national symbol. The prevalent language ideology portrays English monolingualism as the normal condition and the default American to be a monolingual speaker of English.
The most common form of authority involved in developing language policy is the government. Language planning initiatives are often initiated at a sub-national level (Coulmas, 1994). Education is an important variable in most language planning initiatives; education-related planning includes considerations such as the language(s) to be used for instruction, the education of students from language minority groups, and policies about foreign language education for all students. Language planning cannot be understood apart from its social context or the history that produced the context (Cooper, 1989). Like other forms of language planning, language-in-education planning needs to be analyzed in relation to sociopolitical issues.

Rishi Kumar Nagar

1 comment:

Pat & Bill said...

Hello from Wales, where English and Welsh are in contact.

I wonder if you have ever looked at Esperanto? It is a planned language which belongs to no one country or group of states. It seems to have some of the characteristics of a creole. Take a look at