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ERIC Number: EJ789506
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 14
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 23
ISSN: ISSN-1367-0050
Language Alternation among Arabic and English Youth Bilinguals: Reflecting or Constructing Social Realities?
Al-Khatib, Hayat
International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, v6 n6 p409-422 2003
The aim of this paper is to reflect on bilingual performance and specifically language alternation in informal contexts. In this reflection I have focused on the language choice of bilingual speakers when they are not restricted by the social factors of formal settings to adopt one code or the other. I have adopted Poplack's framework in evaluating the traditional reflective aspect of grammatical competence of three youth bilinguals as they used intrasentential, intersentential and the forbidden intromorphemic language alternation in two comparatively distinct languages. In addition to this, I have correlated the base matrix language of the utterances in the informal context, applying Myers-Scotton's functional differentiation, with the macro-social influences, reflecting the bilinguals' acclaimed communicative competence. As far as the reflective approach goes, bilingual performance and specifically language alternation is viewed positively when the bilingual uses his or her two languages in a manner that conforms to the dictates of the macro-social situation, hence reflecting his or her sociolinguistic competence. At the same time the bilingual speaker's performance needs to demonstrate linguistic abilities by using language alternation only at specific intervals that do not interfere with the syntactic and morphological constraints of the languages involved, hence reflecting his or her grammatical competence. Bilingual performance outside this reflective framework is frowned upon as "motivated by an inability to carry out conversation in the language on the floor at the moment" (Myers-Scotton, 1995: 48). My argument is that bilingual performance, and specifically language alternation, has primarily pragmatic and interpersonal considerations. In a bilingual performance that is not reflective of the macro-social influences of the situation of the utterance, the bilingual speaker intends to defy the expected performance to impart extra-linguistic messages through language alternation at specific choice points of his or her utterance to impart new themes and construct new micro-situations. (Contains 2 tables and 2 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A