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The phenomena of code-shifting and code-mixing as a part of socio-communicative system


Korzhov S.Yu., Lecturer of philological sciences, Luhansk Taras Shevchenko National University

Okunkova E.O., 1st year student of Geography faculty of Pomeranian University (Słupsk, Poland)


Annotation: This article deals with one of the most widespread aspects of language study in connection with society – language codes, their interaction and the results of it. Speech community is a group of people that is united by mutual connections of different nature (economic, social, political, etc.) and uses one or several codes of this particular community.

Key words: code-mixing, code-shifting, language code, speech community.

Sociolinguistics is the science that studies the problems associated with the social nature of a language, its social functions, mechanism of influence of social factors on the language and the role of the language in the society. The whole complex sociolinguistic issues in general can be reduced to the following questions: 1) how social factors affect the functioning of languages; 2) as it appears in the language structure; 3) as the language of interaction [3, 67].

Traditionally sociolinguistics can be divided into three sections: Psycholinguistics, ethnolinguistics and interlinguistics. At the present stage of the development of linguistics there is the tendency to separate these sections into independent sciences.

Sociolinguistics is enough young science because all the important issues that it involves are the objects of studying of many linguists, philologists and language learners. In order to expand the study of issues of sociolinguistics, the study of the subject of this article is one of the most common and is not yet fully investigated aspects of language learning in its relationship with society – a language codes, their interaction and its results.

Language community is a set of people with common social, economic, political and cultural relations, people engaged in everyday life direct and indirect contacts among themselves and with different social institutions by using the same language or different languages which are common in this set of people [1, 32].

Kazimierz Felyeshko defines communicative commonness (wider – community) as a group that preserves the classifying, the unity, the unification through frequent and regular samples (templates) social interaction (social interference) on the basis of differentiation (ethnic, ideological, religious, economic, cultural, professional), and is singled out among other groups (subgroups) that surround it, because of the weakness of communication links (contacts) with them [1, 32].

The means of communication of language communities can be any language, dialect, slang, jargon, etc., but in any case they are united by one name – code.

In the most general sense code is a mean of communication like natural language (Russian, English, Chinese, etc.), artificial language Esperanto or a kind of machine modern languages, Morse code, Maritime flag signaling, etc. In linguistics under code is supposed to see language formations: the language, social or territorial dialect, Pidgin, the lingua franca [2, 24].

The relevance of the research question is that the concept of language codes and their switching and mixing is one of the components of language picture of the world, the study of which is necessary for a wider review of the relationship of society, culture and language. The study of the problem involved in such scholars as I. Baudouin de Courtenay, E.D Polivanov, V.M Zhirmunski V.V Vinogradov, A. Meyye, K. Felyeshko, M.P Kocherhan, A.D Schweizer, K. Myers Skotton, L.V Scherba and others. Therefore, the study and use of their works allows isolating and synthesizing issues of social and communication systems, including language codes.

Along with the term code is used the term sub code. It means variety, a subsystem of certain common code, communicative means less volume, more narrow scope of use and a smaller set of features than code [2, 24]. Thus, if the Ukrainian, Russian or English are codes, the following components of these or other languages ​​as dialects, slang, jargon is common code subsystems or sub codes, so sub code is irreplaceable part of the code. But the division of codes for subsystem does not end, because even a part of them as sub codes is divided in its turn into specific subsystems. It turns out that the sub code is a kind of a form of the language existence, without which it is impossible full investigation and studying of language codes.

The set of codes and sub codes that are used in a certain language and society are together in a relationship of functional complementarities, called social-communicative system of this society [2, 25]. It should be understood that the definition of "functional complementarities" means that each code and sub code as a separate component of the whole system has specific features that are not related to the functions of other subsystems, so they complete each other.

The concept of social-communicative system was introduced in the scientific revolution in the mid 70s of last century by scholar A.D Schweitzer. He particularly emphasized the functional aspect of the term. The relation of functional complementarities means socially determined distribution coexisting within a given linguistic community systems and subsystems in different areas (language of books, domestic communication, etc.) and social function (science, culture, education, religion) on the one hand, and for social situation on the other hand [6, 76].

Thus, based on the above, it should be noted that all components of social communication system are connected, completing each other. Obviously, like any language and communicative relationship, they may be more or less stable, so the condition of social and communicative system, its structure and function may affect the political, economic and social changes in the society. All functional relationships between components of social and communication system are codes and sub codes, at the stages of linguistic society existence make linguistic situation that applies to large linguistic communities such as a country, a republic. The language situation is a kind of characteristic of functioning of the social- communicative system in a certain time of the development.

Codes (languages) and sub codes (dialects, styles), which make the socio-communicative system, functionally are distributed. This means that the same contingent of speakers that makes up a particular linguistic community, having a common set of communicative tools, uses them depending on the conditions of communication [2, 27]. This means that carriers of the literary language in scientific activity will use scientific style, in the office – official-business style, etc. This method of sociolinguistics is called code-shifting. Code- shifting can be seen by using several languages.

Code-shifting   or switching of codes is a switch of a speaker in the speech communication from one language (dialect, style) to another depending on the conditions of communication [2, 28]. The conditions under which the switching of codes may be used include: change of destination, change of interlocutors, the changing role of the speaker, change the theme of communication. Switch of language code occurs naturally, sometimes is quick on the uptake. Members of the communicative process, with different codes and sub codes on the high level, can not realize code-shifting. This ability to switch the code suggests a high level of proficiency that allows ensuring mutual understanding between people and comforting the process of verbal communication. If the individual is unable to vary his speech, the result can be communicative conflicts. Shifting is usually spontaneous. This phenomenon can occur both orally and in writing.

The following types of switch language codes are distinguished: 1) at the end of accession words or phrases in the beginning; 2) external code-shifting, i.e. switching between whole phrases or languages; 3) internal code-shifting: code mixing, insertion of words in the middle of the phrase [4].  Code-shifting is often caused by the use of a concept which is not in one of the languages.

Among the code-shifting are often found code-mixing when the transition from one language to another is unmotivated.

The concept of the code-mixing or mixing languages is one of the most misunderstood in modern linguistics, so A. Meyer did not even include it in his linguistic concepts [7].

Mixed language is a term that denotes the language that originated in conditions of widespread bilingualism. Mixed language appears when members of a particular society speak fluently in two languages in order ​​to compare them, to borrow elements in other new spontaneously created languages. It is possible to speak of the creation of the language, but not about code-shifting [4].

Mixing languages ​​or codes is quite deep penetration, which in any case is reflected on the structure of the language. Thus, one language is deformed under the influence of the other languages, but not mixed. Mixing we can see in the vocabulary only.

It is necessary to remember that mixing and code-shifting are borrowings. Researches of many linguists are intended to differentiate code-siftings, borrowings and blotches. Thus, in the process of code switching the speaker uses elements of two or more languages. This saves the grammatical and phonetic signs of lexemes. As a result, under borrowing any unit is subordinate to phonetics and grammar of the recipient language partly. As for blotches, the lexical unit remains frozen in its original form.

Thus, scientists Poplak S., K. Pfaff and others offer to consider different features of borrowings, including phonological and morphological adaptation, lexical gaps in one of the languages, etc. [5]. Distinguishing between mixing and borrowing codes, sociolinguistic researchers underline that the difference is that the mixing regards to speaking and borrowing to the language. But it must be also taken into account the factor that code-mixing can be changed into borrowings and as a result we can conclude that switching codes and borrowings are related to each other as a process and outcome as well.

Linguists believe that in a situation of stable bilingualism codes are often confused, the number of borrowings from one language into another is significant, especially if one of the languages ​​dominates socially. If a borrowing does not suppose to use the code that serves as its donor, so the code-mixing requires knowing of a certain code.

K. Myers Skotton believes that it is impossible to distinguish code-shifting and borrowing, because there is no stable criteria for their distinction. But if to differentiate concepts such as mixing and switching codes theoretically is possible, so under more detailed analysis of normal speech process may have difficulty with determining what the phenomenon was presented exactly in a particular case of the communicative situation.

Summarizing the foregoing material is necessary to note, that the issues, relating to social and communicative system in general and the effects of mixing and shifting of speech codes as a part of the system and taking into account the great interest that is shown in relation to this problematic issue in contemporary sociolinguistics, yet in general, remain poorly understood. In the focus of sociolinguistic research is the relationship and separation of functions of code-mixing and code-shifting. It should be noted that these components of communicative systems are mobile and can be influenced by external factors, including political and economic, so their study is quite unstable and prone to constant changes of opinions and scientists’ arguments.



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