P A P E R S
   by author
  by issue

   M I S S I O N

   C O N T A C T
I S S U E    N O .    6    [ S E P T E M B E R    1 9 9 8 ]

Peter Auer
From Code-Switching via Language Mixing to Fused Lects:

Toward a Dynamic Typology of Bilingual Speech

Over the last few decades, a wide range of phenomena have been described in which two languages are juxtaposed in discourse and/or within a sentence, variously called language alternation, code-switching, code-mixing, etc. It seems worthwhile (and possible) at this stage of research to consider the ways in which these phenomena may be subject to a typology.

The present paper aims at such a typological approach. A continuum of language alternation phenomena will be presented which spans out between three well-documented cases (conceived as prototypes) which will be labelled code-switching (CS), language mixing (LM) and fused lects (FLs), with CS and FLs representing the polar extremes of the continuum and LM a point inbetween.

Since these three prototypes have been amply documented in the literature,the continuum rests on relatively secure empirical grounds. However, I will also suggest an interpretation of it which is somewhat more tentative, i.e., to see the continuum CS -> LM -> FL as a case of structural sedimentation which some might call "grammaticalization".(i) Particular attention will therefore be given to the transitions, CS > LM and LM > FL. The possibility of such transitions has been hinted at, in particular, by Scotton 1988 who suggests that "overall switching as an unmarked choice seems to be the first step to what has been called the development of a semi-autonomous 'Mix'" (165), for which she also uses the term "fused variety" (158). Generally speaking, however, particularistic, differential and historical studies of bilingualism have often been hidden under the more universalistic interests dominating the past decades of research. For this reason, little is known about the dynamic aspects of speech in individual bilingual communities over a period of time.

The terms CS, LM and FLs will be used in the following way: CS will be reserved for those cases in which the juxtaposition of two codes (languages) is perceived and interpreted as a locally meaningful event by participants. The term LM, on the other hand, will be used for those cases of the juxtaposition of two languages in which the use of two languages is meaningful (to participants) not in a local but only in a more global sense, i.e. when seen as a recurrent pattern. The transition from CS to LM is therefore above all an issue to be dealt with by interpretive sociolinguistic approaches since it is located on the level of how speakers perceive and use the 'codes' in question. Stabilized mixed varieties will be called fused lects. The transition from LM to FL is primarily an issue for grammatical research; essential ingredients of this transition are a reduction of variation and an increase of rule-governed, non-variable structural regularities.

 Published as:
Auer, Peter (1999). From code-switching via language mixing to fused lects: toward a dynamic typology of bilingual speech. International Journal of Bilingualism 3:4, 309-332.



InLiSt No.7
PDF (163 KB)

Get Acrobat Reader

Homepage of Prof. Dr. Peter Auer

Insitute of German Studies, University of Freiburg


[ H O M E P A G E | P A P E R S by author | P A P E R S by issue | C O N T A C T ]

© 1998-2009 University of Potsdam, Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen, Professor of English Linguistics.
2010 University of Bayreuth, Prof. Dr. Karin Birkner, Professor of German Linguistics.