Bilingual speech in Jaru–Kriol conversations: codeswitching, codemixing, and grammatical fusion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aims and objectives:
Language contact in the Yaruman community of Western Australia has led to prevalent bilingual practices between the endangered language Jaru and the creole language Kriol. This study examines ordinary conversations in the community and investigates whether the observable bilingual practices are interactionally relevant, and whether codemixing has led to the emergence of a conventionalised mixed language.

Approach:
The research is based on a qualitative analysis of bilingual speech in natural conversation. The approach combines the methodological framework of interactional linguistics with an analysis of the grammatical structures of conversational data.

Data and analysis:
The analysed data consist of two hours and thirty minutes of transcribed video recordings, comprising 13 casual multi-party conversations involving all generations in the Yaruman community. The recordings were made using lapel microphones and two high-definition cameras.

Findings:
Bilingual Jaru–Kriol speakers use codeswitching as an interactional resource for a range of conversational activities. In many cases, however, speakers’ code choices are not interactionally relevant. Instead, codemixing is often oriented to as a normative way of speaking and participants exploit their full linguistic repertoire by relatively freely combining elements from both languages. There are also signs of morphological fusion in the mixed speech of younger Jaru speakers, who more frequently combine Kriol verb structure and Jaru nominal morphology. However, this morphological split is not fully conventionalised and variation is still substantial.

Originality:
The bilingual speech continuum is supported by the analysis of conversational data in a situation of language shift. This article shows that fusion involving core grammatical categories can occur among a subgroup of speakers without developing into a community-wide mixed language.

Significance:
The study contributes to a better understanding of community bilingualism and bilingual practices in a situation of language shift. It demonstrates how codeswitching, codemixing, and grammatical fusion can co-exist in a bilingual community.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Jaru
  • Kriol
  • codeswitching
  • codemixing
  • language mixing
  • fusion
  • language shift
  • bilingualism

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