Sociolinguistic Studies, Vol 5, No 2 (2011)

Switching code and changing social identities in face-to-face interaction

Andry Sophocleous
Issued Date: 15 Jul 2012


This study investigates code-switching and identity construction in the bidialectal context of Cyprus. The significance of this study lies in pinpointing the fact that the relationship between Greek-Cypriots’ two main varieties is a multifaceted one that deserves more attention, especially because apart from standard-dialect switching, dialect shifting is also employed to discursively express alignment or non-alignment. Specifically, this study examines code-switching from a sociolinguistic perspective to explore how individual speakers use code-switching to project their personal identity in moment to moment interaction. Furthermore, code-switching is also examined in relation to audience change and social identity. Data gathered via observations, note taking and voice recordings suggest that close analysis of speakers’ switching patterns can contribute to our understanding of why and how people code-switch. The main findings emerging from this paper illustrate that code-switching is used to ‘voice’ the ‘other’, express power or solidarity, or even transmit a ‘hidden’ message to ingroup members during interaction. Code-switching is an interactional practice and can be used in multiple ways depending on the factors being salient in a specific moment in interaction. Consequently, the analysis and understanding of speakers’ code-switching practices should be approached in discursive social action.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.v5i2.201


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