Sociolinguistic Studies, Vol 4, No 2 (2010)

Communicative styles of code-switching in service encounters: The frames manipulation and ideologies of ‘authenticity’ in institutional discourse

Gabriela Prego Vázquez
Issued Date: 16 Jan 2011


This paper analyses the role of code-switching in professional discourse in a corpus of 80 recorded interviews between employees of a Galician partly state-owned water utility company and customers from a multi-method approach. Drawing on the Ethnography of Communication, Conversation Analysis, Interactional Sociolinguistics, Critical Discourse Analysis and Critical Sociolinguistics or Critical Ethnography, instances of code-switching are subjected to socio-discursive, sequential and critical analyses to understand the role it plays as a strategic resource to control the interaction in professional discourse. The findings reveal that employees use the conversational function of code-switching, that is, ‘personalisation versus objectivisation’, to mask interactional asymmetries between the participants. Specifically, switches from Spanish to Galician indexing ‘personal’ and ‘didactic footings’ emerge in the course of depersonalised, ‘objective’ professional discourse. The paper discusses the sociodiscursive role of code-switching in reproducing new ways in which power is exercised, namely conversationalisation (Fairclough 1997) and motherese (Wodak 1996) in a professional discourse setting.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.v4i2.371


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