Social Interaction, Social Context, and Language: Essays in Honor of Susan Ervin-Tripp

By Dan Isaac Slobin; Julie Gerhardt et al. | Go to book overview

5 1
CODE-SWITCHING OR CODE-MIXING: APPARENT ANOMALIES IN SEMI-FORMAL REGISTERS

Allen Grimshaw
Indiana University, Bloomington

"You can't call me honey, you're not the mommy." -- A little girl in California (reported by Susan Ervin-Tripp)2


INTRODUCTION

The first piece I ever read on the interaction of social dimensions with choice of language variety (or as we now all realize, language production more generally) was Susan Ervin-Tripp's ( SET), "An analysis of the interaction of language, topic, and listener," in the now classic special 1964 issue of the American Anthropologist edited by Gumperz and Hymes. Within an interview study of native Japanese women who had married American men and come to live in the San Francisco area, SET did an "experiment," seeking to identify how ethnicity of interviewer, language of interview, and topic, influenced code selection and, when code was "fixed" -- interference. Many of her reported findings, e.g., that each of the variables just listed affected speech production of those interviewed and that effects were cumulative, are not surprising from the perspective of what we know today -- some, such as differences in answers to the same question in different languages, show an influence of language of discourse which is still

____________________
1
I am indebted to Doug Maynard for a particularly helpful reading of an earlier version of this paper.
2
This example is about rules for language use; it certainly doesn't tell us much about code-switching. But of all the stories about language in use told me by Susan Ervin-Tripp it is my favorite -- and the most often retold.

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