[lg policy] dissertation: Meiteilon-English Code Switching and Identity Issues Among Meiteis in Delhi

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 20 15:10:48 UTC 2010

 Meiteilon-English Code Switching and Identity Issues Among Meiteis in Delhi

Institution: Osmania University
Program: PhD in Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Basantarani Haobam

Dissertation Title: Meiteilon-English Code Switching and Identity
Issues Among Meiteis in Delhi

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Subject Language(s): Meitei (mni)
Language Family(ies): Tibeto-Burman

Dissertation Director:
Aditi Mukherjee

Dissertation Abstract:

The dissertation investigates the question of identity vis-à-vis the
attitude and behaviour relations by looking at the patterns of language use
in various domains, mainly the code switching patterns between Meiteilon,
English and Hindi among the Meiteis in Delhi. The three main perspectives
that are employed in approaching these patterns are the sociolinguistic,
conversationalist and structural perspectives.

The study is based on extensive field work consisting of a pilot study and
a final survey in Delhi, including a detailed questionnaire study. The
results obtained from the questionnaire study are subjected to a
quantificational analysis to determine the social factors in code
switching. The attitude-behaviour relations of the Meitei population in
Delhi is further explored in detailing their attitude towards mixed code
and reported patterns of code mixing behaviour and also their patterns of
use of Meiteilon, English and Hindi in various domains. The findings
resulting from the questionnaire responses are supplemented by the analysis
of the code switching data found in the recorded speech.

Qualitative analysis of the corpus is done through conversational and
structural analyses. The former, based on Auer (1984), shows that code
switching in conversation can be better explained by focusing on the
internal structure of conversational organization by the participants
rather than looking at code switching as merely motivated by the social and
symbolic values attached to the languages involved in code switching.

The corpus is subjected to a structural perspective in two ways. Firstly,
the data is analysed in the light of the Matrix language Frame (MLF) Model
of Myers-Scotten (2002). Secondly, the Meiteilon-English code switching
data is subsequently explained by comparing the results obtained from the
Conversation Analysis approach to the data and a theory-neutral structural
analysis outside the framework of the MLF Model.

The findings of the dissertation can be summarized as follows:
(i) The relation between attitude and behaviour need not be a proportional
one. This points to an accommodating and integrative but non-assimilating
attitude, with an instrumental motive, towards the host society.
(ii) Though English is rated highly positively by the Meiteis and
considered the most important language in various domains, mainly in
education and career, Meiteilon emerges as the preferred language of
interaction among the Meiteis in Delhi.
(iii) Code switching can act as a conversation cue. It is motivated by the
internal structure of the conversation and how the meaning of code
switching is arrived at by a sequential analysis of the conversation.
Frequent employment of juxtaposition of the two languages as a contrast
brings about conversational goals by resorting to change of footing,
reframing, emphasis and elaboration by repetition and quotation of reported
speech. In this connection, it was also found that the direction of switch
is irrelevant.
(iv) While some linguistic structures in code switching can be explained
within the framework of the MLF Model, not all are accounted for by this
model. The phenomenon of code switching can be better understood if the
results obtained from such an analysis supplement or add to the
observations arrived at using the CA approach. The CA perspective when
supplemented with a structural analysis, affords us a much richer account
of code switching than any single perspective can individually offer.
(v) Code switching data of a particular speech community is made more
accountable by showing the connection between how a conversational context
is shaped by its participants and the linguistic, grammatical structures
the participants employ or call upon to achieve such conversational goals.


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