Date: Thu, 20 Jan 1994 08:05:00 EST

From: "Dennis.Preston" 22709MGR[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MSU.BITNET

Subject: Re: AWAKE! Etc.

Dan Goodman's query about code-switching reminds me of some of our earlier

conversations on this list concerning the sociolinguistic-psycholinguistic

basis of different varieties. I will return to that. First, of course, one

might (more or less) arbitrarily decide what a 'code' is and then determine

code-switching. In case three (assuming 'takke' has not been incorporated into

English), I think nearly everybody would agree that moving from one langauge

to another is code-switching.

In case one, if 'black tea' and 'regular' tea are geogrphical alternates, one

might also suggest that moving from one regional variety to another is a good

example of code-switching.

In case three (where Manhattan KANSAS is required (pragmatically)), I suspect

that many would deny such shifts code-switching status. Consider a simpler

situation: My wife asks 'Who called?' and I answer 'Rudy' (because we know

only on e Rudy; she later asks 'Who called?' and I answer 'Bill Kretzschmar'

(because we know lots of Bills). It would be a big stretch to say that I was

code-switching between first and first plus last name reference.

Left out, however, are cases of switching along a stylistic continuum. 'Have

you eaten yet'; 'Did you eat yet'; 'Dija eachet'; 'Jeechet.' Do you want to

name positions on such a continuum different 'codes'? If so, these are

examples of switching. (I'm not fond of that decision for reasons I'll come


Finally, how ab out the forms of switching known as 'metaphjoric'? IN these,

one appears to move to another 'vareity' not because of external pressures

(e.g., a more or less formal situation) but because of an internal desire to

make some point or even accomplish some action (e.g., speaking more casually

to let interlocutors know you are just plain folks). And, just like in

discussions of metaphor in general, when do such shifts become so

conventionalized that they are no longer seen as metaphoric (in which case,

they might no longer be examples of code switching).

Really finally, we might devise a more formal approach to code-switching if we

only knew a little more about the psycholinguistics of variety. Although such

research has been common in SLA and bilingual studies, it seems to have been

short-changed by Chomskean declarations that every style in every speaker is a

'different grammar.' (That is a necessary construct, of course, is one needs

an ideal native speaker/hearer.) If you don't believe that (and Occam and I

don't), then there are interesting possibilities for investigation. When is

there a psycholinguitically different grammar. If not between styles, between

what? Maybe there are 'core' versus 'peripheral' grammatical differences in

variety differences (intra- and inter-speaker).

I don't know what code-switching is becuase I don't know what a code is.

Dennis Preston 22709mgr[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]msu.bitnet