Academic journal article K@ta

Toward a Theoretical Inquiry into Codeswitching: The Indonesian Experience

Academic journal article K@ta

Toward a Theoretical Inquiry into Codeswitching: The Indonesian Experience

Article excerpt

Abstract: Hardly has codeswitching been evaluatively treated on the theoretical level using the natural language data from the sociolinguistic context of Indonesia. This research paper is to address such an issue as a field of inquiry incorporating the researcher's first-hand encounter with naturalistic language data in the field.

Key words: codeswitching, interlingual paradigm, multilingualism, Indonesian sociolinguistics

Codeswitching behavior that I have often come across in the field while scrutinizing the sociolinguistic data among Indonesian speakers gives me convincing evidence that such behavior is both quite natural and widespread among members of any multilingual community (cf. Fishman, 1972; Gumperz in Dil, 1971; Sankoff, 1971; Huerta, 1978; Kartomihardjo, 1981; Poedjosoedarmo, 1982; Grosjean, 1982; Heller, 1988). However, my first difficulty in the field is that, to my knowledge, no Indonesian researchers have addressed it evaluatively on the theoretical level using some empirical evidence from Indonesian context. Such an inquiry will undoubtedly provide insightful contribution to Indonesian sociolinguistics.


Shafter (1978, p. 265) notes that linguists actually have long recognized two basic principles: on one hand, that languages in contact may influence each other, and on the other hand, that each language internally has a hierarchical structure. However, it was just in the early 1950s that theoretical inquiry into languages in contact really began in Weinreich's seminal concept of "interference" (1953).

Switching behavior is actually recognized, though not necessarily understood by Weinreich. The fact is that such a form of verbal behavior is left unexplored due to the limitation of his interlingual paradigm of interference.1 Like speech mixture, switching is even given a derogatory label as being a speech behavior which is "....condemned by a society like any other undesirable traits" (Weinreich, 1953, p. 83). Runningcounter to this idea, my scrutiny of the linguistic communication among many members of any multilingual community even justifies that their use of codeswitching (in less formal context of situation) indicates their verbal virtuosity.

Haugen (1953), in his study of the speech of Norwegian-American informants, also notices the frequent occurrences of switches, but they are usually characterized by "a clean break",2 i.e. that the switches hardly take place within "a single breath group" (p. 65). However, instead of simply accepting Weinreich's concept of the interlingual "interference" as being the overlapping between two distinct linguistic systems, Haugen (1956, p. 40) introduces two other distinct stages of the interlingual impact of languages in contact: "codeswitching" and "integration". In his scheme, codeswitching is defined as the alternate use of two languages that also includes the introduction of a single "unassimilated" word up to a sentence or more into a stretch of discourse in another language.3 (cf also Haugen, 1973, p. 528); whereas "integration" is almost similar to the notion of "interference", i.e. the introduction of some linguistic forms from one language into another. However, the only distinction between the two rests on the question of the current norms. If "interference" is, on one hand, considered contrary to the current norms of usage, "integration" is, on the other hand, in harmony with the contemporary norms (cf Shafter, 1978, p. 265).

Meanwhile in pursuit of the interlingual impact of speech among postwar German-speaking immigrants in Australia, Clyne (1967, p. 19) realizes the derogatory connotation of Weinreich's interference and then he proposes a term "transference" to refer to "the adoption of any elements from another language". By his scheme, a term "transfer" is used as an instance of "transference" that may cover both a "switch" and a "loan word".4 Some sort of variation in the length of switched elements is evidently recognized in this work as a further distinction is also made between a minimal switch, simply being a "multiple transfer", which usually constitutes the introduction of a long stretch of speech from one language into another (pp. …

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