"'Nous autres c 'est toujours bilingue anyways': Code-Switching and Linguistic Displacement Among Bilingual Montréal Students". Review

| 1 Comment

Capture5.PNGImage Source: www.montrealgazette.com


Code-switching is generally identified as the alternation between two or more languages within one conversation or context. Many factors contribute to the phenomenon and just as many reasons underlie it. On a smaller scale, code-switching is primarily generated by the propinquity of two or more languages that are either all official or spoken by a vast majority of people within one community.

Montreal, being a mutilingual city where French and English are dominantly in use, is an example par excellence of such a community. The ease with which Montrealers switch from one language to the other in the same conversation, and for no apparent reason, may very well stump foreigners who are unfamiliar with the local linguistic overlap. Some qualify the phenomenon of code-switching as a sure testimony to a person`s high IQ--the capability to juggle a couple of languages within the space of a single utterance seems impressive. It is even acknowledged that, more often than not, people code-switch for an added stylistic effect, for the sake of variety so to speak, and not because they have a poor command of their native language.

Given the many language policies affecting the status of French and English over the course of Quebec`s history, Anglophones and Francophones have oftentimes found themselves at daggers drawn as regards language prevalence and prestige. It is important to note that the latter is only a superficial issue; the bottom part of the iceberg is all about identity and the way the two lingusitic groups position themselves based on their attitude towards either English or French specifically and bilingualism within the country in general.

"'Nous autres c 'est toujours bilingue anyways': Code-Switching and Linguistic Displacement Among Bilingual Montréal Students" is an article featuring a highly relevant study carried out by an American independent student, Eva Valenti, with the goal of gaining a deeper insight into the identity "shift" stipulated by the co-existence of French and English in Montreal.The author does a good job pointing out certain important aspects of the study`s participants` linguistic standing and personal identification, which are representative of the general views shared by the English and the French strata of the city.

Nevertheless, the fact that three of the participants were raised in either bilingual or multilingual households is confusing for the simple fact that multilingual individuals, even if they were raised in Montreal, fall under a separate category that is a lot broader than just bilingualism. Also, two of the participants were raised by a Francophone father and an Anglophone mother, thus being barely able to identify as either just Anglophone or just Francophone, which slants the study into a little bit of a different direction. In my opinion, it would be more appropriate, in the context of this specific study, to choose individuals who were raised in unilingual households but who became bilingual consciously and whose subconscious code-switching is not influenced by the fact that they speak, in equal measure, two or more languages at home.

The article revolves around the question of the English and French identities and how the Anglophone group regards its French counterpart in the context of language dominance and vice versa. Code-switching is observed by the author via interviewing the participants about the status of English and French in Quebec, the prospects of employment, whether, in their opinion, there is a preference as to which language a candidate must speak at any rate to suceed in the local job market and whether or not they consider bilingualism to be a deciding factor in successfully landing a desired position.

These interviews, conducted separately with a group of Anglophone and a group of Francophone students, shed light on how the representatives of both linguistic groups alternate English and French in their answers, what the potential reasons behind their individual, yet subconscious, code-switching may be as well as which of the two groups tends to code-switch the more and why.

For instance, as far as the study goes, the Francophone students used code-switching more extensively and actively than their Anglophone counterparts, which the author considers to be directly proportional to the former`s subconscious desire to participate on an equal footing in the so-called They code (Anglophones)--the Francophones felt the necessity to manifest their ability to do so by way of code-switching a lot and thus proving that they are perfectly bilingual. This pattern is, however, inconsistent since not all the Francophones had the same level of bilingualism. Conversely, the Anglophones had a tendency to code-switch sparsely and in very specific contexts, mainly to designate Franchophone phenomena and to set themselves apart from the They code (Francophones), as opposed to seeking participation in it.

The article is good in that it has a very clear-cut structure and effectively demonstrates the respective tendencies of code-switching in the Anglophone and the Francophone communities of Montreal and, by extension, Quebec, by means of choosing a very distinctive category of speakers--students. To begin with, Valenti uses clearly defined terms throughout her article; she starts off by providing an explanatory definition of code-switching: "Code-switching (CS) is a linguistic phenomenon in which a bilingual speaker switches freely between their languages (codes) within a single utterance, conversational turn, or conversation. Linguists can often pinpoint a "we" code and a "they" code based on the speaker's respective comfort levels with the two languages."

Already here we can see that she includes the notions of the "we" and "they" codes which she will focus on more closely in the actual study. Clear definitions of concepts or terms that may come out as unknown to the general public are key to the quality of a paper. As is pointed out by Laurence Behrens in his Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum, "the validity of an argument depends to some degree on how carefuly an author has defined key terms." (Behrens, 28).

For her study, the author had chosen five Anglophone students enrolled in a Francophone university (Université de Montréal), and five Francophone students enrolled in Anglophone universities (Concordia and McGill). That selection is important since it features individuals who are "linguistically displaced" per se and whose mentalities are adapted to the Anglo-Franco dichotomy on a daily basis; as opposed to Anglophones and Francophones who attend Anglophone and Francophone institutions respectively and who may be less alert to issues of bilingualism, at least as students.

The author based her study on some very clever principles: she interviewed the participants in two phases, which allowed her to observe a change in the code-switching pattern of some of the participants. First, she recorded the discussion between the Anglophones and then between the Francophones without being present herself--so as to prevent her Anglophone presence from influencing the direction the discussions might take and the patterns of code-switching they may involve (especially with the Francophones).

In the second phase of the study, on the other hand, she interviewed each group in person, which, as she notes, had a certain influence over the instances of code-switching of at least two of the participants: "Alexia and Andrea, who were less secure in their bilingualism, used more CS in their private discussion than in their individual interviews with me, possibly because they were intimidated by an Anglophone audience."

However well-conducted, the study also leaves room for ambiguity. The main confusing factor is, in my opinion, the involvement of three participants that were raised in either multilingual or bilingual households. The author herself points out the broader background of one of them specifically as opposed to the others who grew up speaking one language at home: "Ibrahim was raised in Francophone Outremont by a Turkish father and a Filipina mother. He never mentioned linguistic tensions in his interview. He recognized that Anglophone students were a minority at UdeM and expressed "solidarity"; still, rather than identifying as Anglophone, Ibrahim referred to himself as "an international type of guy" whose identity hinged on multilingualism--and, by extension, multiculturalism--rather than on English or French alone. The same ambiguity applied to [his] national identit[y]."

To begin with, in the case of Ibrahim, one could assume that English was the language of convergence for his parents neither of whom probably spoke the native language of the other. That is why, their son was, hypothetically speaking, raised mainly in English. Nevertheless, it was only natural that he could not fully identify as either Anglophone or Francophone because there is a certain probability that he was equally taught his parents` respective languages. The author seems to leave out of consideration this important factor whereas she should have expatiated upon it. Or else, she should have altogether avoided the participation of multilingual and multicultural individuals in this particular study.

Furthermore, as the study shows, Ibrahim was the one to code-switch the most: " Ibrahim used more pure CS than any of my other Anglophone participants. Sometimes he seemed to use a French word after an attempt to find its English equivalent [...] These examples are arguably not CS, since they appear to result from a lexical gap. Still, the lexical gap here is in Ibrahim's native language. Ibrahim, despite identifying as Anglophone, has a "native" vocabulary including both French and English terms; these examples further support the case for a "bilingual" language identity."

The last statement is quite gratuitous since, as we already know, Ibrahim comes from a background wherein more than just two languages were probably spoken. Also, since Ibrahim turned out to be the one who code-switched the most in the Anglophone group and since he has a multiethnic identity, it may be that he has a partial command of all the languages that he grew up speaking at home. As is obvious from the quote, he code-switched to French whenever he struggled to find an appropriate word in English, which does not at all mean that there was no such word--it is just that he could not think of it. That may be due to the somewhat miscellaneous nature of the participant`s language identity, which is further supported by the fact that the "pure" Anglophones code-switched for reasons other than simply not coming up with a word in their native language. They used code-switching to point out the "Frenchness" of this or that phenomenon as opposed to being at a loss for a word.

Also, in the quote, the author mentions that Ibrahim`s native vocabulary comprises both French and English words, which, according to the author, accounts for the participant`s code-switching. However, it is not specified at the outset which language was most spoken in his home. It could have been English--as his parents` language of convergence--it could have been French and it could have been either Turkish or Filipino or both. It could have also been a mixture of all those. That needs clarification and might even lend itself to a separate study.

In the final analysis, the article may definitely be of interest to those concerned with the topic of bilingualism in general and in Montreal in particular. The study featured reveals some really important facets of bilingualism and offers a valuable insight into the concept of code-switching within the frame of a bilingual language identity. Nevertheless, the author could have done an even better job and avoided certain ambiguities if she had chosen pure Anglophones and pure Francophones for this particular study. The presence of multicultural and multilingual individuals in a study that is supposed to be evaluating "bilingual language identities" makes it a lot more complex than the goal of the research seemingly was.

Sources:

Behrens, Laurence and Leonard Rosen. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. New York: Pearson, Longman, 2007

1 Comment

true religion uk
burberry handbags
ralph lauren polo
coach outlet online 70% off
superdry clothing
canada goose outlet
coach outlet 70% off
ugg boots clearance
coach outlet
coach factory outlet
polo ralph lauren shirts
ugg boots outlet
coach factory outlet
north face outlet
montblanc pens
canada goose canada
moncler jackets
ugg outlet
coach outlet online
uggs outlet
moncler jackets
ralph lauren uk
true religion jeans
true religion jeans
mbt outlet
longchamp outlet store
coach factory outlet
air jordans
discount nike
coach factory online
ralph lauren outlet
coach outlet online
ralph lauren outlet
pandora jewelry
longchamp outlet online
adidas yeezy
giuseppe zanotti sneakers
mulberry uk
under armour clearance
ugg boots
ray ban sunglasses
coach outlet
cheap mlb jerseys
north face outlet
coach factory outlet
uggs outlet
ugg australia
fitflops sandals
michael kors handbags
tory burch outlet
adidas wings
ugg boots sale
nike huarache shoes
christian louboutin outlet
ugg outlet
cheap nhl jerseys
polo ralph lauren outlet
uggs outlet online
longchamp bags
ugg australia boots
salvatore ferragamo
converse shoes
michael kors outlet
north face canada
coach outlet
canada goose clearance
ray ban sunglasses
burberry outlet online
ugg boots outlet
michael kors handbags
new balance shoes
calvin klein underwear
michael kors outlet 75% off
ray ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet clearance
true religion jeans
kate spade sale
ray ban sunglasses
coach outlet
coach outlet
chicago blackhawks jersey
soccer jerseys
ralph lauren
north face clearance
kate spade outlet store
uggs outlet
birkenstock outlet
air max uk
oakley sunglasses wholesale
jordan shoes
ray ban uk
cheap jordan shoes
hermes birkin bag
adidas stan smith
ugg boots
ugg boots on sale 65% off
ugg boots
uggs outlet
ugg slippers
ugg boots
nike factory store
nike huarache
louis vuitton outlet
adidas stan smith shoes
kate spade outlet online
christian louboutin shoes
pandora jewelry
cheap uggs outlet
moncler pas cher
coach outlet
ugg australia
kate spade outlet
michael kors bags
michael kors outlet clearance
ray ban sunglasses outlet
supra shoes
ugg boots
christian louboutin pas cher
ralph lauren uk
burberry scarves
cheap ugg boots
adidas outlet
ugg factory outlet
oakley sunglasses
ugg boots clearance
oakley sunglasses cheap
prada outlet
coach outlet online
prada outlet
christian louboutin outlet
nike nfl jerseys
coach bags
kate spade sale
longchamp outlet
michael kors outlet clearance
supreme shirts
air jordan retro
ugg boots
pandora bracelet
uggs clearance
sac longchamp
mlb jerseys
moncler outlet
nike blazer
nfl jerseys from china
nike store
d&g sunglasses
cheap nfl jerseys
moncler outlet
ralph lauren outlet
hermes birkin handbags
oakley vault
ugg australia
jordan shoes
nike outlet 30% off
supreme outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet
ugg clearance
nike air force 1
burberry sale
ugg boots
burberry outlet
ray ban sunglasses
adidas jeremy scott
tory burch outlet online
michael kors outlet
ferragamo shoes
ray ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet online
oakley sunglasses
moncler jacket
michael kors outlet
ugg boots
ugg australia
the north face outlet
michael kors
ugg outlet
louboutin outlet
ugg boots clearance
coach outlet store online
oakley sunglasses outlet
cheap jordans
michael kors uk
ugg outlet
retro jordans
hermes belt outlet
nike trainers uk
michael kors outlet online
ugg sale
red bottoms
coach outlet online
ugg outlet
coach outlet
coach outlet
fitflops shoes
true religion sale
hollister clothing
nike roshe run
north face jackets
doudoune canada goose
cheap ray ban sunglasses
cheap jordan shoes
hermes outlet
ugg boots
cheap ugg boots
michael kors handbags
coach factory outlet
versace glasses
pandora charms
fitflops sale
burberry outlet online
polo ralph lauren
michael kors outlet
birkenstock sandals
north face outlet
polo ralph lauren outlet
ugg outlet
coach outlet
fitflops sale clearance
true religion jeans
prada glasses
ugg boots
ugg outlet
louis vuitton handbags
pandora jewelry outlet
uggs outlet
ray ban sunglasses
cheap michael kors handbags
ugg boots
ugg australia
cheap nba jerseys
ugg boots
burberry canada
christian louboutin uk
tory burch
adidas shoes
tory burch outlet
north face outlet
canada goose outlet
ugg sale
ugg boots outlet
ugg boots
prada outlet online
manolo blahnik outlet
the north face outlet
oakley sunglasses
under armour shoes
ugg canada
mlb jerseys
longchamp handbags
canada goose outlet
polo ralph lauren
cheap ray ban sunglasses
ugg boots outlet
nike factory store
ray ban sunglasses
nfl jerseys wholesale
polo ralph lauren outlet
montblanc pen
salvatore ferragamo outlet
uggs outlet online
north face outlet
ugg outlet online
adidas outlet clearance
oakley vault
moncler outlet
coach wallets
baseball jerseys
coach outlet
michael kors outlet
cartier glasses
mulberry bags
north face jackets
air jordan shoes
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet
nike outlet store
canada goose outlet
ralph lauren polo
the north face outlet
ray ban sunglasses outlet
nike air max 95
christian louboutin shoes
michael kors handbags
coach outlet
mulberry sale
moncler uk
north face uk
christian louboutin outlet
ugg sale
adidas yeezy
ugg boots
cheap ugg boots
adidas outlet store
coach outlet online
nike store uk
birkenstock uk
polo ralph lauren outlet
ugg outlet store
adidas trainers
ugg boots uk
ugg outlet online
oakley sunglasses cheap
ray ban sunglasses
nfl jerseys wholesale
cheap jordans
vibram five fingers
carrera sunglasses
coach factory outlet
fitflops shoes
adidas trainers uk
michael kors handbags
ugg outlet
pandora charms
mont blanc ballpoint pens
ugg slippers
canada goose outlet
salvatore ferragamo belt
coach outlet online
canada goose jackets
ugg outlet
polo ralph lauren outlet
coach factory outlet
fitflops shoes
cheap nfl jerseys
the north face
ugg factory outlet
polo ralph lauren
nike air max
tommy hilfiger canada
ugg boots
cheap snapbacks
dior sunglasses
ugg outlet
true religion outlet
oakley sunglasses
burberry scarf
ugg boots on sale
polo ralph lauren
coach factory outlet
oakley sunglasses
coach factory outlet online
rolex watches
christian louboutin outlet
ugg australia
polo outlet
ugg australia
armani sunglasses
pandora canada
red bottom heels
uggs australia
swarovski crystal
oakley sunglasses wholesale
hollister co
nike factory outlet
adidas originals
kate spade outlet
michael kors handbags
superdry uk
louis vuitton outlet
supreme clothing
canada goose sale
ugg boots
replica watches
christian louboutin shoes
uggs outlet
cheap jordan shoes
nhl jerseys wholesale
louis vuitton
cheap oakley sunglasses
ugg sale
canada goose canada
cheap nfl jerseys
cheap jordans
ugg boots on sale
michael kors outlet
coach factory outlet online
cheap jordan shoes
uggs uk
ugg outlet
prada handbags
uggs outlet
uggs slippers
the north face outlet
tory burch outlet online
uggs classic boots
michael kors uk
coach factory outlet
true religion jeans
nike nfl jerseys
adidas nmd runner
uggs clearance
ugg boots
chenyingying20170926

Leave a comment