Audience design and code-switching in Bayside, Texas

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Dahl, Kimberly Lynn

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This study casts the code-switching patterns observed among Spanish-English bilinguals in Bayside, Texas within the framework of Bell’s (1984) theory of audience design, which is claimed to apply to both monolingual style-shifting as well as bilingual code-switching. The latter part of this claim has been little explored. The intent of this study, then, is to determine if the explanatory power of audience design, as demon¬strated in studies on style-shifting, does indeed hold when applied to cases of language alternation. Analysis of the data from Bayside generally supports Bell’s theory as it shows speakers adjusting their use of Spanish and/or English to suit their audience. The study will highlight a less frequently analyzed aspect of Bell’s model, i.e., the role of the auditor, and will call for the auditor to be classified as a primary influencer of lin¬guistic choice in bilingual contexts, alongside the addressee. The code selection patterns exhibited by a pair of Bayside residents in a series of interviews and in conversations videotaped at the local general store will be com¬pared to illustrate the effects of addressee and auditor. A qualitative analysis will dem¬onstrate that differing determinations regarding the linguistic repertoires of the auditors led to contrasting linguistic choices on the part of the study’s subjects. The data collected will show that, when selecting a language of communication, as opposed to a register, style, or dialect, a speaker may be more greatly affected by an auditor than by the addressee. The methods used in collecting the data will also support an expan¬sion of Bell’s model to include an additional participant category suitable for capturing the effect of the recording device, as per Wertheim (2006).




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