Codes and Consequences: Choosing Linguistic Varieties

Codes and Consequences: Choosing Linguistic Varieties

by Carol Myers-Scotton (Editor)


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Codes and Consequences: Choosing Linguistic Varieties by Carol Myers-Scotton

This collection of essays considers how messages of intentionality are conveyed by choosing one style of English over another. While these choices are not necessarily conscious, an awareness of the consequences of the choice of linguistic code of speakers, performers, and writers is implicit in their communicative competence. Messages of intentionality thus go beyond the referential content of the conversational turn, performance, or literary work. Intentions refer to everything from attitudes toward the subject matter to the presentation of the speaker's persona in relation to the topic or audience. In this way, linguistic choices serve as a tool for the speaker or author and simultaneously as an index used by the audience to find these implied communicative goals.

The contributors examine this phenomenon, known as codeswitching, in situations ranging from translations of the Bible to "surprise in poetry" to supervisor-worker interactions on the automobile assembly line. A major theme throughout this volume is how the construct of markedness is utilized in codeswitching. Developed to varying degrees among these essays is the notion that speakers and writers, as rational actors, exploit the unmarked-marked opposition regarding audience expectations. Claims in many of these chapters follow the Markedness Model, Myers-Scotton's explanation of the social import of linguistic choices. Under this model, the use of a particular code displays an intentional meaning that is viewed in terms of the extent to which the code's use matches community expectations, given the social situation or genre involved.

A wide array of subjects, from novels to family conversations at a holiday gathering, are discussed in these essays, making this volume of interest to linguists specializing in such areas as discourse analysis and sociolinguistics, as well as scholars and students of English literature and rhetoric.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195115222
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 06/28/1998
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Carol Myers-Scotton is the Carolina Distinguished Professor of Linguistics at the University of South Carolina where she teaches courses in sociolinguistics, language contact phenomena, and discourse analysis. She has published widely on codeswitching and is the author of Social Motivations for Codeswitching: Evidence from Africa (OUP, 1993) and Duelling Languages: Grammatical Structure in Codeswitching (OUP, 1993).

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