Date of Award

1-1-1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Applied Linguistics)

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Professor Ian G. Malcolm

Abstract

The aim of this study is to investigate the code-switching of native speakers of Japanese in an English-speaking context. The languages involved in code-switching therefore are English and Japanese. This is an instance of communication in the participants' first language, in a setting where the speakers' second language is dominant. The research focused on a sample of twelve Japanese people. These participants were born in Japan, and their parents' native language is Japanese. Even though the length of time each has spent in residence in an English-speaking country varies, the minimum is two years. Further, all have previously studied English, for at least six years, during the high school period in Japan, and are regular users of English. These participants were separated into six pairs of two age groups. The first was 20-30 years, the second was 40-60 years. Their informal conversation was recorded and transcribed for analysis. Moreover, a sociolinguistic interview was carried out in order to uncover the participants' intentions or strategies, (based primarily on their own interpretations), with regard to code-switching. Despite a large number of loan words in the Japanese language (most deriving from English), and the prestigious status which the English language holds, Japanese people within Japanese society, tend to hold a negative attitude towards code-switching in conversational circumstances. In this study, however, code-switching was found to be a significant choice in the speakers' linguistic repertoire (in the English-speaking context) for informal interactions with their friends. Although there was some degree of constraints on the speakers' linguistic choices, primarily attributable to a particular topic and attitudes towards code-switching, the speakers demonstrated their ability to make a linguistic choice according to their intentions/strategies. Moreover, this study attempted to expose the linguistic features of English/Japanese code-switching. The type of code-switching which was most frequently used amongst the participants was intrasentential code-switching (which occurs within the same sentence). Specifically, singly occurring intrasentential code-switching was the most common amongst the speakers. It was found that the Japanese language played a dominant role in producing this type of code-switching. On the other hand, well-formed English phrases were also produced in intrasentential code-switching when there is a semantic/ pragmatic mismatch between the two languages.

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