Friday, 25 June 2021

Codeswitching

 


If you have a bilingual child or if you are bilingual, then you are probably using both languages in the same conversation quite often. I do. This is called code switching.

"In linguistics, code-switching or language alternation occurs when a speaker alternates between two or more languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation or situation." Wikipedia

"Code-switching is the use of more than one linguistic variety in a manner consistent with the syntax and phonology of each variety." This means that speakers who use code switching know the grammar of the languages that they use and using both requires linguistic knowledge.

Code switching is not used because a child is confused or doesn't differentiate between the two languages. 

Here are a few reasons why we use codeswitching:
- we simply know some words better, or they are more accessible (easier to pronounce, they come to mind faster)
- we use it because we know that our conversational partner understands. My daughter switches to English when someone speaks English, but might use a few Finnish words, because the people she is talking to know both.

It is a misconception that introducing a second language when a child isn't already proficient in the first language will confuse them or it will slow down their first language acquisition. Research shows that the vocabulary size of a bilingual child compared to that of a monolingual child is the same. Bilingual children say their first words around the same age as monolingual kids. 

Do you have a bilingual child? Does she use codeswitching? 

What languages do you speak at home? I am curious. :)

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