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This article investigates the relationship between code choice, bilingual identity and language change. Code choice and codeswitches in a bilingual Spanish-English publication are examined with two questions in mind. The first asks the extent to which stylistic and social variables, including identity, govern code choice. The second looks at the relationship of code choice to language change. Based on the pattern of code choice found in a popular women's magazine, I conclude that codemixed discourse is one of three varieties of code available to the bilingual, and where this variety is used intentionally, it is meant to emphasize the speaker's bilingual identity, l also consider structural aspects of codemixed discourse and determine that although the El-L2 structure of this discourse is distinct from the monolingual L1 and L2 structures, it nevertheless follows from universal principles of grammar and does not require the positing of a third grammar. I further argue that the use of mixed-code discourse, especially in written media, as a pragmatically and structurally distinct variety available to bilingual speakers, falls within the Weinreich, Labov, and Herzog (1968) and Labov (1972 a,b) conceptions of language change. Thus, I suggest that in some contexts, codeswitching, is itself an instantiation of language change.
That language changes over time is apparent to linguists and nonlinguists alike. Accounts of how language changes and descriptions of change-in-progress have been successfully developed by Bynon (1977); Hock (1996); Weinreich, Labov, and Herzog (1968); Labov (1972a,b) among others. Weinreich et al. sum up the nature of language change in its social context as follows (pp. 100-101): "The key to a rational conception of language change--indeed, of language itself--is the possibility of describing orderly differentiation in a language serving a community." Weinreich et al. (1968) and later Labov (1972a,b) showed us that change-in-progress can be observed. Moreover, they effectively argued that the process of language change is part of a social dynamic that offers a glimpse of the relationship between language and social identity on the one hand, while providing evidence for language theories, on the other.
Lexical borrowing is often cited as the most common type of language change resulting from language contact, where borrowings typically enrich the language but do not affect the overall structure of the host language (Hock, 1996). By and large, the status of codeswitching, another consequence of language contact, has been unclear vis-a-vis language change. With the exception of its role in the language shift/language death cycle, switching between languages has mostly been discussed in terms of social/ stylistic strategies used in response to setting, audience and topic, and as a means of group identification (Bell, 1984, 2001; Grosjean, 1982; Gumperz, 1982; Kachru, 1982; Mahootian, 2000; Romaine, 1995, among others).
I propose that in some contexts codeswitching is itself an instantiation of language change. I analyze code choice as it appears in a conventionalized format, printed media, where language choice is made consciously: copy is written, proofread and approved by a number of people before it is set to print. I claim that mixed code discourse, used by a subset of Spanish-English bilinguals in the U.S.A. to mark identity with other Spanish-English bilinguals, is a variety with a distinct communicative function which has achieved "official" status. Particularly, I suggest mixed-code discourse is used to underscore a bilingual identity that is connected to, yet distinct from, the identity of speakers in their monolingual contexts. I examine the relationship between code choice and bilingual identity and the degree to which this relationship has brought about language change. Finally, I address whether the spreading of the mixed-code variation from its original scope (spoken discourse) into a standardized, conventional discourse context (print media) is evidence of language change in the tradition of Weinreich et. al and Labov. Simply, the questions to be answered are (1) to what extent are code choice and codeswitching governed by social factors? and (2) to what extent does codemixed discourse constitute language change?
Towards answering these questions, in Section 2, 1 discuss the relationship between code choice, codeswitching and the conscious and unconscious use of each. In Section 3, I argue that intentional codeswitching is a means to signal bilingual identity. In Section 4, I turn to codeswitching data in the media to further establish the link between intentional codeswitching and bilingual identity. The structure of codeswitching is analyzed in Section 5 where 1 maintain that although structurally it is governed by universal grammatical constraints that apply to all languages, L1-L2 mixed-code structure is distinct from both L1-only and L2-only structures because it results from the interaction between two separate grammatical systems. In Sections 6 and 7, I return to the two questions that 1 posed above. I argue codemixed discourse is functionally and structurally in variation with the L1 and L2 varieties available to the bilingual speaker and conclude that codeswitching is a form of language change.
2 Code choice, codeswitching and intentionality
Backus and Eversteijn (2002) point to the difficulties of distinguishing language choice from codeswitching. Among other things, they conclude that, "it may be justified to define language choice as what speakers do when deciding in which language to conduct a conversation and codeswitching as alternating between languages within a conversation" (p. 14). In agreement with this hypothesis, in my analysis I distinguish between mixed-code discourse, which I claim is itself a variety available to the bilingual speaker, and codeswitching, the alternation between languages found within the mixed-code discourse. "Discourse" refers to written text or spoken conversation.
To understand the role of code choice as an actuation point for language change and the conventionalized use of mixed-code discourse as the manifestation of that change, we need to expand the discussion to include "intentionality" in code choice. The question that arises is the degree of intentionality or conscious choice one should or should not ascribe to the use of mixed-code and to individual instances of codeswitching. A related question concerns the degree to which these choices are sociolinguistically significant or in relatively free and random variation. Here, again, we must be careful to distinguish between mixed-code as a discourse mode, and codeswitching, as the alternation between two languages at the utterance level, within the discourse mode.
Intentional code choice as a harbinger of structural change …