End of ADS-L Digest - 23 Dec 1993 to 24 Dec 1993 ************************************************ There are 4 messages totalling 114 lines in this issue. Topics of the day: 1. modren metathesis (4) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Sat, 25 Dec 1993 00:29:18 -0700 From: Rudy Troike Subject: Re: modren metathesis To: Gwyn Williams From: Rudy Troike Subject: "Mixed-up Primitives" It is sadly true that "linguistic scientists", who of all people should be sensitive to the significance of language, have probably been more cavalier than almost any other group of specialists in taking words with well- established popular meanings and giving them technical meanings and then trying to convince the rest of the world that they should put aside the original meaning and embrace the new technical sense. It is not true that no one has ever tried to change this: in the 1970's, people like Raven McDavid were trying very hard to erase the unfortunate legacy of technical use of the term , and replace it with , allowing one to speak simply and non-pejoratively of "regional variation" and "social variation". Unfortunately this effort seems to have regressed in recent years. However, while it is hard, as anyone involved with language policy knows full well, to change established usages, it should be easy to avoid the mistakes of the past with new coinages. The handful of scholars using "mixing" for intra-sentential code-switching have not gone so far down the road that their neologism is irrevocable. To argue in favor of using the term is on a par with reinstating the term "primitive" in discussions of language, usually in contexts which placed European languages at the top of the value-heap. Since code-switching of whatever kind occurs in the process of speaking or writing or signing, it is inherently a phenomenom observed in performance, though receptive competence can be tested to some extent experimentally, with the usual caveats. [The misspelling above being a performance error, since I am a terrible typist.] Intra-sentential CS is to some extent psycholinguistic- ally a different critter from Inter-sentential CS, since the latter requires much less facility in both languages. Don Lance's Spanish is much better than mine (he used to teach it); he can do intra-sentential CS and I can't. It seems to be true with some populations that switching within sentences is very rare, but generally the more fluent the speaker in both languages, the more likely switching will occur within sentences. However, even for such groups, the tendency is very great for switching to occur at sentence boundaries. If exo-sentential switching seems rare in Thai/English, it would be valuable if you would conduct a study and publish the results. Since there are a few studies on Chinese/English switching, the results could be compared. [Irrelevantly here, but I knew a Thai speaker in the US who refused to speak Thai with another native speaker who was older than she was but whom she did not like, since she did not want to have to linguistically acknowledge deference to her.] Given the hierarchic nature of Thai society, the relation of CS to social relations would be interesting as well as the purely syntactic constraints. One would hope that several decades of international polemic over center/periphery, colonialism, Eurocentrism, and the like would have sensitized almost everyone to the underlying issues involved, but people immersed in the center often do not recognize the issues, and academicians are often too involved in their own work to have heard of the debates. The civil rights movement in the U.S. did, I believe, sensitize many social scientists to conditions and consequences of (internal) colonialism more than is the case in many other countries. To call this heightened awareness a "hangup" is simply to trivialize it and dismiss it. Those of us who have ridden the crest of ESL teaching have participated in the colonialist process, usually without being aware of it. I would hope that the kind of sensitivity that anthropolo- gists have been trying to get other social scientists to adopt internationally would apply here.