From Code-switching via Language Mixing to Fused Lects: Toward a ...

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InLiSt No. 6
Interaction and Linguistic Structures
From Code-switching via Language Mixing
to Fused Lects:
Toward a Dynamic Typology
of Bilingual Speech
Peter Auer
Freiburg i. Br.
September 1998
This paper is based on a lecture given at the University of Constance in honour of Prof.
Dr. Aldo di Luzio on the occasion of his retirement (February 1998) and on an invited
lecture given at the First International Symposium on Bilingualism, Newcastle, April 10-
12, 1997. I would like to thank Li Wei, one of the organizers of the conference, for his
encouragement to turn the lecture into writing. Previous versions have also been
presented and discussed at the Universities of Berlin (FU, JFK-Institute) and Barcelona
(Univ. Autonoma). Thanks also to Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen, Monica Heller and Yaron
Matras for critical and helpful comments.

In recognition of the enthusiasm he has brought to al
aspects of the study of spoken verbal interaction,
we dedicate this series to Professor Dr. Aldo di
Luzio, University of Konstanz.
Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen
Prof. Dr. Margret Selting
Prof. Dr. Peter Auer
Dr. Susanne Günthner
Universität Potsdam
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Universität Konstanz
Institut für Germanistik
Deutsches Seminar I
FG Sprachwissenschaft
Postfach 60 15 53
PB D 180
D-14415 Potsdam
D-79085 Freiburg i. Br.
D-78457 Konstanz
Additional copies may be ordered from:
Universität Konstanz, Sekretariat LS Angl. Sprachwissenschaft, InLiSt
PB D 180, D-78457 Konstanz, Tel.: +49/7531/88-2552, fax: +49/7531/88-4157

Dedicated to Aldo di Luzio on the occasion
of his 65th birthday
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”. 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

1. Code-switching
(Conversational) code-switching defines the pragmatic pole of the continuum to be
discussed. In CS, the contrast between one code and the other (for instance, one
language and another) is meaningful, and can be interpreted by participants, as indexing
(contextualizing) either some aspects of the situation (discourse-related switching), or
some feature of the code-switching speaker (participant-related switching). Discourse-
related code-switching is part of the realm of everyday rhetorics, not part of grammar (the
scholastic grammarians´ ars obligatoria). It is one of the available strategies used b y
bilinguals to convey meaning. As a contextualization strategy, it represents a
metapragmatic comment2 on the on-going interaction which marks it it as bilingual.
Participant-related code-switching covers instances of diverging language preferences
and competences.
Code-switching (understood in this sense) has been dealt with by many scholars (cf.
the pioneering work by Gumperz 1982:59ff, as well as Li Wei 1994, 1998; Alfonzetti
1992, 1998; Auer 1984, 1995; Sebba/Wootton 1998, among many others). Its
significance must not be equated with the ‘social meaning’ of the various languages
within a multilingual repertoire, as it is often believed to exist in diglossic situations (such
as language A being the ‘we code’, ‘informal code’, ‘solidarity code’, etc., and language B
being the ‘they code’, ‘formal code’, ‘deference code’, etc.3). Although the languages
involved in code-switching may index some kind of extra-conversational knowledge,
code-switching can never be analysed as a mere consequence of such indexing,
without taking into account the sequential position in which it occurs and from which it
receives its meaning. The following illustrative example is taken from di Luzio´s analysis
(1984:67) of reproaches and teasing among children and youngsters in the
Italian/German group of speakers also investigated in Auer (1984):
Ex. (1) (Italian underlined; transcription follows GAT4)
noja am spielplatz
(well in the playground)
am (spielplatz)
(in (the playground))
wissen Sie wo der spielplatz isch?
(do you know where the playground is?)
das is:[:
(it is: :)
[der kann ja h[ingehe
(he can pass by there)
se: mo va ccamená propri´ [llá
(oh I´m sure he will pass by there)

The switching in line 07 changes the ‘footing’ of the interaction; while the adolescents
Ag., Cm. and Cl. have been trying to explain to adult m. the location of a playground - a
purely ‘technical’, reference-establishing sequence without any emotional overtones - ,
Ag.´s Italian dialectal utterance in this line is directed at Cm.´s and responds to his
previous suggestion that m. should ´pass by´ there in order to see himself. In retorting in
Italian dialect, Agostino marks his reply as ironical (‘there is no reason why an adult
should spend his time looking for playgrounds’), but also as reproachful and as a mild
critique of Camillo´s utterance. In his analysis, di Luzio shows that such switching into
Italian dialect occurs regularly in this group of friends. It cannot, however, be derived
from whichever ‘meaning’ one may want to attribute to this variety within the speakers´
The prototypical case of (discourse-related) code-switching can be portrayed as
follows: (a) it occurs in a sociolinguistic context in which speakers orient towards a
preference for one language at a time; i.e., it is usually possible to identify the language-
of-interaction which is valid at a given moment, and until code-switching occurs; (b)
through its departure from this established language-of-interaction, code-switching
signals ‘otherness’ of the upcoming contextual frame and thereby achieves a change of
‘footing’. The precise interpretation of this new footing needs to be ‘filled in’ in each
individual case, although previous episodes may also be brought to bear on the
interpretation of the case at hand; (c) it seems possible to describe the mechanisms b y
which code-switching relates to the two codes and to the context in which it occurs in
very general ways. Contexts are theoretically innumerable, of course, as are the
interactional meanings of code-switching; however the ways in which these meanings
are construed remain constant from one community to the next; (d) code-switching may
be called a personal or group style. As a group style, its use may be subject to
normative constraints valid within a speech community; however, it certainly is not a
variety in its own right; (e) most code-switches occur at major syntactic and prosodic
boundaries (at clause or sentence level). Since switching serves to contextualize certain
linguistic activities, the utterance units affected by the switch must be large enough to
constitute such an activity. For this reason, code-switching does not provide much
interesting data for syntactic research; (f) although code-switching bilinguals may be
highly proficient in both languages, balanced proficiency is by no means a prerequisite.
Indeed, code-switching is possible with a very limited knowledge of the ‘other’
In order to ascertain that in a particular case of the juxtaposition of two co-occurring sets
of structural parameters we are dealing with code-switching, it is essential to show that
speakers orient towards this juxtaposition. Therefore the question of what counts as a
code must refer to participants’, not to linguists’ notions of ‘code A’ and ‘code B.’ An
‘objective‘ statement (i.e., one exclusively informed by the ‘linguistic facts’, such as (the
absence of) phonological or morphological integration, or frequency) that a given

arrangement of signs constitutes a combination of elements of two systems is not only
very difficult to make at times (cf. the Castilian/Galician example discussed in Auer
1998), it is also irrelevant. There may be cases in which the two codes juxtaposed are
‘objectively speaking‘ very similar, but regarded by the members of a bilingual
community as completely separate (as in some cases of dialect/standard switching; cf.
Alfonzetti 1998 for Sicily), just as there may be codes which are ‘objectively speaking‘
very distinct but nevertheless seen as non-distinct by the speakers (see section 2).6
A methodology to prove participants´ orientation at the juxtaposition is precisely to show
that it is used as a contextualization cue (i.e., that it is ‘functional’). Further evidence is
provided by self- and other-corrections of language choice (cf. Gafaranga, MS) as they
may also be found in the data from which ex. (1) is taken:
ex. (2): (same participants as in (1); Italian in italics; transcription according to GAT)
di ch’ di che cosa parlate general[mente=
(what do you usually talk about together)
[<pp>tutt´ cos´ =
(all kinds of things)
<mf>della scuOl´ =
(about school)
<f>della [scuola
(about school)
Ag.: [was wir WERde wolle (-) [alor cos devo: (-)
(what we want to be
I mean what I need to)
((about) our mates)
Ag.: <p>devo (1.0)
(I need to)
cosa (d )
(what (n ))
Ag.: <p>devenDAre;
In this part of the conversation, the adolescents have temporarily accepted adult m´s
language choice (standard Italian); this is demonstrated by the fact that Ag’s momentary
‘excursion’ into German in line 05 is immediately self-repaired, although the Italian version
is not without linguistic difficulties for the speaker (who runs into trouble finding the
standard Italian infinitival form for dial. devendá ~ std. diventare ‘to become’). Together
with language negotiation sequences in which participants (try to) find a common
language-of-interaction (cf. Auer 1984: 13ff, 1995: 128ff , in prep.), such repairs prove
participants´ orientation to a preference for one language at a time.
To summarize, although we are used to approaching conversational code-switching from
the presumption that there are two codes (languages) which are used alternatedly, and
then proceeding to investigate the function switching between them may have, a strictly
interpretive approach forces us to state the question the other way round. We need to

start from the observation that there are two sets of co-occurring variables between
which participants alternate in an interactionally meaningful way, and then proceed to
ask whether we can see them as belonging to or constituting two varieties or languages
(cf. Alvarez-Cáccamo, 1998, in prep.). The ‘codes’ may turn out to be ‘languages’, but
they may also be ‘dialects’ or other varieties, or even sets of prosodic contextualization
One final point needs to be made. The prototypical case of code-switching sketched
above represents the alternational type: one in which a return after the switch into the
previous language is not predictable. There is another type of code-switching where
this is not the case and which may be called insertional.7 In this type of switching, a
content word (noun, verb, rarely adjective/adverb) is inserted into a surrounding
passage in the other language. As in alternational switching, participants show an
orientation towards the ‘other-languageness’ of the insertion, either by deriving some
particular interactional meaning from it, or by relating it to the speaker´s (momentary)
incompetence in the established language-of-interaction. In both cases, prosodic cues
(extra emphasis, preceding pause) and verbal markers (metalinguistic comments,
hesitation) may serve to underline the juxtaposition and turn it into a locally noticeable
phenomenon.8 Note that the insertion may be morphosyntactically fully integrated; or it
may carry over grammatical elements into the receiving language.9 The communicative
function of insertions (and their status as CS) does not depend on its grammatical
2. Language mixing
The range of phenomena covered by the term CS according to the interpretive
approach chosen here is considerably smaller than often suggested by the pervasive
usage of the term in the literature. From this, it follows that there are many cases of the
juxtaposition of two languages other than code-switching. One such case of language
contact is ‘mixing’ (of languages, dialects, etc.).
From the early times of research onward data for the conversational juxtaposition of two
languages have been presented which clearly do not fit the prototype of CS as
presented in section one. This is true, for example, for the ”frequent code-switching”
(particularly of the non-emblematic type) investigated in the pioneering work by Poplack
(1979 [1981]) on Puerto Rican bilingual language use in the USA, but also for most of
the data collected in Africa (for instance, Scotton´s ”code-switching as the unmarked
choice”, 1993a).

Ex. (3) is taken from an European context and from the same language pair as ex. (1),
(2), which were discussed in the preceding section as examples of code-switching.
Nevertheless, we are clearly dealing with a case of LM here:
Ex. 3: (Preziosa Di Quinzio 1992: X, quoted from Franceschini 1998:59f)
[Italian immigrants in Switzerland, Swiss German dialect and Italian (underlined); author´s
transcription conventions]
perchŽ meinsch che se tu ti mangi emmentaler
o se tu ti mangi una fontina
isch au
(Ôbecause, you mean, if you eat Emmental cheese or if you eat Fontina cheese, there is also
en unterschied, oder? schlussŠndlich
• sempre dentro l“ per˜ il gusto isch andersch.
there is also a difference, isnÕt there? Actually, itÕs still there, but the taste is differentÕ)

• vero!
thatÕs right!Õ)
p11: es git verschiedeni fondue aso die heisset verschiedŠ, aso ja das isch en
(Ôthere are different kinds of Fondue, they have different names, well thereÕs a
himmelwiitŠ unterschied se prendi questo o se prendi il chŠs normal.
huge difference whether you take that one or whether you take the ordinary cheese.Ô)
, zum biispil io raclettechŠs lo prendo sempre fresco . raclettechŠs
(Ôreally! well, for instance me, Raclette cheese I always get it fresh. Raclette cheese
hol ich immer im dings... Šs git au im migros cos“ implasticato gits au.
I always get at what's-its-name... they also have it at Migros, wrapped in plastic they have it, too«)
In this case of the juxtapositions of Italian and Swiss German dialect it is difficult if not
impossible to say whether the language of interaction is Italian or Swiss German dialect;
rather than one of the varieties involved, it seems to be their alternating use which in
itself constitutes the ‘language’-of-interaction. It is equally difficult to argue that the
juxtaposition of the two languages triggers a change of footing or is related to the
competences or preferences of the speakers on each occasion; these juxtapositions do
not seen to have local meaning, i.e. from an interpretive point of view, they cannot be
called code-switching (although speakers will be well aware of the bilingual language
mode in which they converse).
The fact that in LM of the type exemplified by (3) individual turns cannot be labelled
language A or language B is mainly due to the frequency of turn-internal language
juxtaposition. Since LM does not contextualize linguistic activities, such juxtaposition
may affect units of any size, typically not only at clause boundaries but also below. LM
is therefore much more intricately linked to syntax than CS. However, most researchers
agree that it is not the case that ‘anything goes’ in LM; rather, the ways in which the two

languages in play may be intertwined are subject to certain constraints. It is these
constraints that most syntactically oriented research on bilingualism has focused on.
As a consequence of the frequent intrasentential juxtapositions of the two languages it is
often difficult to maintain the distinction between insertional and alternational
juxtapositions in LM. In fact, it is a typical feature of LM that alternational and insertional
strategies converge. Yet, the distinction does not always collapse completely. Rather, it
is often possible to identify mixing styles of a more insertional kind and those of a more
alternational kind. Extract (3) above is clearly of the alternational type (and, incidentally,
obeys the equivalence contraint suggested by Poplack 1979 [1981] which may be
typical for alternational LM in general), and so are the bilingual data presented b y
Zentella on Puerto Rican bilingual speech (1997:15ff, cf. in particular her example on p.
117). On the other hand, an example such as the following is clearly on the insertional
Ex. (4) (from Bentahila & Davies 1995:83)
[younger generation of Moroccan speakers; French in italics; clause numbers added;
authors´ transcription conventions]
(1) hadu
les cousins djali z&ajjin men la France w ¿andhum
(these (the) cousins of mine were coming from France and they had)
la voiture ...(2) m¿a la voiture djal xali ... (3) merra la
(a car
with the car of my uncle
one day the)
plage, merra z&z&ebel, merra la forêt, kul merra w fin.
(beach, one day the mountains, one day the forest, every time
somewhere different)
(4) ¿andna fih des photos, derna les photos bezzaf. (5) On a
(We have photos taken there, photos a lot
We even)
même filmé, (6) hakka wlad ¿ammi z&abu la caméra.
(made a film.
So my cousins brought the camcorder.)
(7) filmaw.(8) filmana bbahum f lbhar.
(9) filmana même fe
(they filmed
Their father filmed us in the sea. He filmed us even)
ttriq f la ville. (10) z&abna ma¿na xir rrabbi djal les
(in the street in the town. We brought back with us a lot of)
souvenirs. (11) wahed ssuq ¿andhum, (12) men daks&i ¿andhum,
(souvenirs.They have a market there
what a market they have)
(13) il est immense. (14) ¿andhum ... (15) huwwa un seul
(it´s enormous
They have
it´s all one)
souk walakin divisé en parties, (16) bhal fih la partie djal
(market but divided into sections
for example there is the )

Vi les poissons. (17) haduk ... (18) kajnin les pêcheurs.
(section only for fish
there are fishermen there)
(19) Les pêcheurs enfin makajketru la journée djalhum f
(The fishermen in fact don´t spend the day of them at)
lbhar, (20) kajz&ibu dak ... (21) duk les poissons frais,
they bring that those the fresh fish)
(22) w katelqaj l¿jalat Vi kajs&riw ... (23) Vi les poissons,
(and you find women buying only
only the fish)
(24) Vi lfenn.
(only the best)
It is intuitively clear that the ‘matrix language’ (to use a term coined by C.M. Scotton) of
most clauses in this passage is Moroccan Arabic.11 Into these grammatical frames, single
French words, particularly nouns (and occasionally discourse particles/adverbs such as
enfin, 19, and même, 9) are inserted, which are not part of this variety of Arabic (i.e.,
they are nonce borrowings, not integrated borrowings). Nouns take with them certain
grammatical elements (in particular, the definite and indefinite articles), sometimes also
their modifiers such as adjectives (cf. clauses 21, 15). French verbal stems may be
transferred as well (cf. clauses 7, 8, 9) and can be integrated into Moroccan Arabic
morphology. For all these reasons, the extension of an insertion is not necessarily
restricted to its lexematic (V, N) ‘core’, but may affect larger (NP) or smaller units (stem).
The only cases of alternational LM (or perhaps CS) are in clauses 5, 13 and 15. Only in
the latter case is it difficult to assign a matrix language to the clause.
Most researchers on LM in the speech of the African elites agree that in their data, a
matrix language can be identified; this implies a dominantly insertional mode of LM (cf.,
among many examples, Scotton 1996b, Haust 1995, Swigart 1992, Goke-Pariola 1983,
Gafaranga, MS). Speakers may look upon insertional mixing as a variety of the
language into which elements are inserted, i.e. the ”matrix language” (as argued b y
Gafaranga MS, Swigart 1992), although this variety may be looked down upon in some
cases. LM of the insertional type is also claimed by Backus 1996, writing on LM in
Dutch-Turkish bilinguals.
Not all examples are unambiguous, however; a more complex case of both insertional
and alternational LM (combined with CS) are, for instance, Luther´s table conversations.
As is well known, switching between Latin and the vernacular language (here: Early
New High German) was a wide-spread practice among intellectuals in the 16th century: