This study examines bilingual children's code-switching practices as they occur in multiparty play activities in an English school in Sweden. By focusing on the endogenous organization of play events, the study contributes to our understanding of bilingualism as both resource for and result of children's social conduct. The central questions are: what is the role of bilingual practices in children's mundane reflexive production of social order, and, specifically, what sort of interactional work may be accomplished through code-switching?
Interpretive analyses of naturally occurring play episodes were conducted, broadly along the lines of interaction and conversation analytic research. The empirical data comprise over 20 hours of audio- and video-recorded play, taking place during recess. The analyses draw upon previous work on language alternation, which focuses on members' procedures for accomplishing locally meaningful interaction in bilingual conversation (Auer, 1984; Gumperz, 1982).
The results are reported in four empirical studies, highlighting the following features: The children did not make use of a specialized play language. Rather, both English and Swedish were commonly spoken during recess activities. Further, the children's choice of language was locally sensitive and guided by a general preference for same language talk. In light of this preference, the linguistic contrast arising with code-switching served to contextualize children's actions. More specifically, the empirical studies demonstrate (i) how code-switching may be used to facilitate children's entry into ongoing play; (ii) how it may serve to bring about a shift in conversational footing; (iii) to highlight the oppositional nature of certain actions within dispute exchanges, and finally, (iv) to enhance, in certain sequential locations, children's competitive bids for the conversational floor.
The present approach diverges from the monolingual perspective traditionally adopted in research on bilingualism, as well as the commonplace conceptualization of bilingualism as, above all, an aspect of the individual mind. Instead, bilingualism is viewed as a set of contingent practices within joint activities in play. Thus, the present study highlights the socially distributed nature of bilingualism, managed and accomplished within interactional exchanges.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press , 2000. , 131 p.
2000-12-15, Sal Key 1, Hus Key, Universitetsområdet Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)