Linguistic Anthropology

The study of language has been part of anthropology since the discipline started in the 1ate 1870s. This site is a place for linguistic anthropologists to post their work and discuss important events and trends in the field.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Neurological Basis of Code-Switching?

Bilinguals switching between codes have been interesting cases for research in sociolinguistics and the ethnography of communication. For instance, many bilinguals identify one language as the "we-code" and the other language as the "they-code," switching according to both conversational and social contexts. This phenomenon leads to fascinating studies of linguistic communities, language ideology, and social identity.
A recent study by Kuan Kho and others at the Rudolf Magnus Institute in Utrecht sheds some light on the neurological basis of code-switching as bilingual patients treated for epilepsy would switch involuntarily from one code to the next.
BPS RESEARCH DIGEST: Tongue-tied: When bilinguals switch languages involuntarily
This could lead to interesting conversations between linguistic anthropologists and other language scientists, including neuroscientists­.

19 Comments:

Blogger Émilie Pelletier said...

Interesting study. From the few readings I have done on code-switching, I tend to see weaknesses in such an understanding of individuals' intentions and categorizations, and Gumperz's "we/they" code seems to me as only one of many interpretations that can be done of code-switching... I tend to agree with the critique of such a conception made by conversation analysts following an organizational approach (such as Auer and Gafaranga). It seems to me that this latter approach relies less on people's assumed intentions and conscience; they rather analyze the interaction/utterance itself in order to discover the meanings that emerge from it.

I would be interested to know if the people studied tried to engage in any repair when they 'unvoluntarily' switched languages.

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