Codeswitching between English, Kannada and Hindi Essay

What do you think these examples illustrates about the nature and functions of code-switching between English and other languages? You should relate your answers to discussions elsewhere in the block.

McCormick states the term ‘code’ marks ‘a distinct language or language variety’ and ‘codeswitching’ denotes to the use of more than one language in conversation between bilinguals (2012, pp.263-264). This essay will discuss the nature and purpose of codeswitching between three languages by analysing a collection of codeswitching evidence. The essay will also consider one of the participant’s commentaries outlining the circumstances that stimulated the switch. [a]

McCormick stresses that the smallest deviation ‘into another language would be for a loanword’ (Ibid p.264). This is distinguishable in Jaya’s conversation with Nitin, in which Jaya uses the term ‘police’ (U214 Assignment booklet 2012, line 2) whilst conversing in Kannada. The employment of codeswitching in interaction reflects the speaker’s sense of identity, that is how collocutors want to be regarded. Switches can also occur in effort to gain certain approval (McCormick 2012, p.265), or to foster ‘a different role or aspect of one’s own identity or that of the interlocutor’ (Ibid p.267).

Jaya (DVD 1, 2012, clip 6.3) comments that the conversation was work related in which the employment of English is large and Nitin’s attempt to give a ‘friendlier’ impression, prompts Nitin to initiate the interlocution in English; ‘I’m also working on this eh…police thing’ (Assignment booklet 2012, line 1). Jaya (in DVD 1, 2012, clip 6.3) replies in Kannada in attempt to demonstrate that she is ‘closer to him’ (Ibid). [b]

McCormick argues that ‘there is evidence’ to suggest that bilinguals are not often conscious ‘of which language they are using’ or when switching occurs (2012, p.264). This can be identified in Jaya’s conversation as Cobb et al points out that the expressions ‘haÅ’ and ‘achcha’, although utilised extensively in India, are Hindi terms, which Jaya employs in her Kannada conversation but does not ‘notice…to comment on’ (2012, p.60). [c]

Jaya and Prathiba’s conversation is chiefly in Kannada but there are articulations of specific sets of words such as ‘paperwork’ and ‘legal clarification’ which have been embedded into Kannada (DVD1, 2012, clip 6.3). According to Jaya, these are work terms thus spontaneous. Additionally, Jaya claims to be unacquainted to the ‘Kannada equivalent’ and embeds ‘them quite automatically’ (Ibid). This is also supported by McCormick’s statement that for some topics of discussion, ‘bilinguals have the necessary vocabulary only in one language’ (2012, p.266). Suresh Canagarajah stresses ‘a…complex understanding of multilingual competence’ encouraged intellectuals to regard ‘languages as part of an integrated repertoire, accessed…according to one’s needs and interest’ where languages are not accepted as having ‘separate competencies but constitute an integrated competence’ (1995b, in McCormick 2012, p.279).

Jaya states ‘wondu sathi once they’ve done’, interestingly, ‘wondu sathi’ is consistent with the English expression ‘once’, however, Jaya utilises both. This is in accordance with McCormick’s suggestion that a ‘common stylistic practice is to switch languages when repeating something for emphasis’ (McCormick 2012, p.269). [d]

According to McCormick, various scholars argue that within multilingual situations, two languages, in time, becomes deeply embedded ‘in the minds of speakers’ that they are ‘able to draw on both without always attending to their (also) being different’ (Ibid). Jaya uses the address form ‘Mr’ when mentioning ‘Brahmanda’ (Assignment booklet 2012, line 2). This, according to Jaya is uncommon in India but the point to note is that Jaya did not become aware of it ‘the first time’ she heard it’ (DVD 1 2012, clip 6.3) Jaya also states her reaction to reflect on ‘why and how’ she ‘switched’ as ‘odd’ (Ibid) .

In bilingual conversation, a switch in one interlocutor can encourage the other. [e]To illustrate, Jaya states that Prathiba’s sentence, which starts in English but ends in Kannada, prompts Jaya to respond in Kannada. Nevertheless, Jaya, although starts in Kannada, ends in English because ‘English is the language of work’ (Ibid).

Jaya’s conversation with Jaggu demonstrates a rich example of code mixing in which both interlocutors effortlessly switch between Hindi, Kannada and English. McCormick states that ‘even a brief excursion into another language can signal a particular ‘belonging’ (2012, p.264). Jaya begins her conversation (A) with Jaggu, her brother, in Hindi ‘aur phir sa: ra: duniya: se ba: th ki: maine’ (Assignment booklet 2012, line 1). Interestingly, Jaya claims they are ‘both operating in South India’ where the use of Hindi is limited. However, Jaya’s childhood association to the Hindi language spurs Jaya to initiate her conversation in Hindi claiming; ‘It’s a… language in which I can take liberties with him’ (DVD 1 2012, clip 6.3).

According to Jaya, Jaggu’s response in English saying ‘sorry, I’m so sorry’ is due a lacking of ‘sorry’ in many Indian languages’, the substitute form for ‘sorry’ in India, Jaya claims is ‘very formal’ whereas the English expression is casual and therefore intimate (Ibid).

Contrary to Jaya’s claim, conversation B is conducted chiefly switching between English and Kannada with minor excursions into Hindi. Seemingly, the most engaging constituent of conversation B is Jaya’s ‘embedding’ of ‘prepone…an Indian English word’. Jaya’s attentiveness that ‘prepone ma: du’ is an ‘Indian English word…turned into a Kannada verb’ indicates an awareness of a methodical language use (Ibid). This links to Emi Otsuji and Alastair Pennycook’s theory of ‘metrolingualism’ which attempts to combine ‘contemporary ideas of hybridity and fluidity across language’ whilst being conscious that a ‘more fixed notion of language / cultural identity’ is nonetheless ‘salient for speaker’ (2010, in McCormick 2012, p.285).

Finally, through code switching, bilinguals establish their identities in social settings. Although English is the ruling language of workplace, Jaya’s conversation with Nitin in Kannada and English demonstrates that code switching is deliberate and used to express an approachable disposition of speaker.

The second interaction between Prathiba and Jaya illustrates that code switching can be utilised for emphasis and Jaya’s sense of unfamiliarity with work related terms in Kannada suggests that code switching can be prompted depending on the availability of words in the language repertoire of speaker and also because certain words can be utilised with fewer difficulties. Code switching thus complements speaker’s language variety, as there is little evidence to state that code switching reflects speaker’s inadequacy in language.

The final conversation indicates that code switching is an activity that reflects the speaker’s sense of intimacy with his / her interlocutor. There also appears strong indication to stress that speakers are not always aware they are switching.

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