Language Choce - Philadelphia University

Multilingual speech
Language Choice in Multilingual
Choosing your variety or code:
There are different factors involved in choosing
one code rather than another:
1- the social factors,
2- the characteristics of language users, and
3- the participants involved.
An example:
Pat: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Chris: I give up.
Pat: To get to the other side
There are certain social factors that affect the
user of language when choosing the kind of
language he is needs, such as:
1- who you are talking to,
2- the social context of the talk, and
3- the topic of discussion.
domains of language use is a term popularized
by an American sociolinguist, Joshua
Fishman. It involves typical interactions
between typical participants in typical settings
about a typical topic. Examples: of these
domains are family, friendship, religion,
education and employment.
Examples of multilingual countries:
- From Africa:
1- Cameron: English and French (official)+
Cameroonian pidgin.
2- Chad: Arabic & French (official) + more than 100
African languages.
3- Algeria: Arabic (official) + French+ Berber language
(national language in the constitution) + French
(media, education and business).
4- Egypt: Arabic (official) +English & French and
Egyptian Arabic.
Domain is clearly a very general concept which
draws on three important social factors in
code choice :
1- participant,
2- setting,
3- topic, and
in bilingual and multilingual speech
Other social factors affecting code
- The components of a domain do not always fit
with each other. They are not always
- Within any domain, individual interactions may
not be ‘typical’ in the same sense in which
‘typical’ is used in the domain concept.
- People may select a particular variety or code
because it’s easier to discuss a particular
topic, regardless of where they are talking.
- It’s called ‘leakage’, suggesting it is in some
way irregular-the code associated with one
domain is ‘leaking’ into another.
- Particular topics may regularly be discussed
in one code rather than another, regardless of
the setting.
What’s affecting choosing a certain
1- the social distance,
2- the status relationship between people,
3- the dimension of formality, and
4- the function or the goal of the interaction.
- it is to move from one code (language, dialect,
or style) to another during speech for a
number of reasons such, to signal solidarity,
to reflect one's ethnic identity, to show off, to
hide some information from a third party, to
achieve better explanation of a certain
concept, to converge or reduce social
distance with the hearer, to diverge or
increase social distance or to impress and
persuade the audience (metaphorical codeswitching)
- Before considering code-switching, however it is
useful to relate to the patterns described so far to the
important sociolinguistic concept of diglossia.
- Diglossia: communities rather in which two languages
or language varieties are used with one being a high
variety for formal situations and prestige, and a low
variety for informal situations (everyday
conversation). Diglossia has three crucial features;
two distinct varieties of the same language are used
in the community, with one regarded as high (H)
variety and the other as low (L) variety. Each variety
is used for quite distinct functions; H & L complement
each other. No one uses the H variety in everyday
Example: the standard classical Arabic
language is the high variety in Arab countries,
and it is used for writing and for formal
functions, but vernacular (colloquial) Arabic is
the low variety used for informal speech
- Diglossia is a characteristic of speech
communities rather than individual.
- It describes social or institutionalized
bilingualism, where two varieties are required
to cover all the community’s domains.
- It involve two contrasting varieties (high and
low) but in general it refers to communities
that regularly use more than two languages.
- In speech community there are two H varieties
and a number of L varieties in a complex
- It is a useful term for describing situations
where more than two distinct codes are used
for clearly distinct purpose.
Lexical borrowing
- it results from the lack of vocabulary and it
involves borrowing single words – mainly
nouns. When speaking a second language,
people will often use a term from their first
language because they don't know the
appropriate word in their second language.
They also my borrow words from another
language to express a concept or describe an
object for which there is no obvious word
available in the language they are using.
1- Diem (1974: 26) indicates that borrowings
occur out of necessity: certain vocabulary
might be lacking in the dialect and are
borrowed from SA. Owens’s (1991: 25)
findings in Jordan support the view that
borrowings from SA are “motivated to a great
extent by need.” Owens provides examples
that started to be used with the opening of the
Yarmouk University in Jordan in 1976, e.g.
’masāq ‘course’ and qā‘a ‘classroom.
2-Wilmsen (1995) also asserts that such
borrowed words are completely assimilated
into the dialect. Abu-Haidar (1992: 104)
emphasizes this point in Baghdad, where
words such as muӨaqqaf ‘educated’ and
taqaddom ‘progress’ have been assimilated
into the everyday speech of Baghdadis.
Al-Ani concludes that /q/ is not a replacement
for /g/, but it is used as a result of the literary
influence on the dialect. The /g/ remains the
dominant phonetic feature and it occurs in
high frequency words.
-Al-Ani, Salman H. (1976). The development and distribution of the Arabic
‘qaf’ in Iraq. In Readings in Arabic Linguistics (1978), Al-Ani, Salman H.
[Ed]. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Linguistics Club
- Abdel-Jawad, Hassan. (1981). Phonological and Social Variation in
Arabic in Amman. Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.
-Code switching involves a choice between the
words of two languages or varieties, but
Lexical borrowing is resulted from the lack of
- Metaphorical switching is for rhetoric
reasons, drawing on the associations of both
codes because people use metaphors to
represent complex ideas.
- Bloomfield (1933) broadly defined bilingualism
as the “native-like control of two languages”.
Thank you
Nidaa mohammad