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Auteur: Claudia BUCHER

Co-Auteur(s): Etienne MOREL, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland Prof. Simona PEKAREK DOEHLER, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Formal aspects of code-switching in SMS communication: the Swiss sms4science corpus

Abstract/Résumé: Plurilingual SMS practices crosscut what has classically been defined as unilingual vs. bi/plurilingual communities and unilingual vs. bi/plurilingual speakers, and are apparent in a large variety of ways. The use of more than one language in SMS communication is widespread, yet has remained scarcely explored in research. Existing studies have documented a great diversity of bi- and plurilingual practices in SMS communication, mostly within bilingual communities, but they say little about the formal characteristics of code-switching in the context of SMS communication. These have been proven to be specific to their communicative context and differ from what has been observed in face-to-face interaction. The challenge is not only to examine what type of language units speakers switch and how exactly they integrate these units into the surrounding discourse, but also to take into consideration mode-specific aspects such as mixed spellings, homographs or ideographic switching. These hybrid forms of language use blur the boundaries between what we commonly call languages and may be seen as a key feature of SMS communication. The study presented here is part of an inter-university research project, entitled “SMS communication in Switzerland: Facets of linguistic variation in a multilingual country”, based on a corpus of 26,000 authentic messages collected between 2009 and 2011. We will present first results based of the analysis of those messages from the abovementioned database whose base language is either French or (Swiss-)German. We first identify the languages found in the data, discuss their relative frequency and identify differences between the (Swiss-)German and the French sub-corpora. We then expose the formal types of code-switches found in the data, following Muysken’s (2000) typology (intra-sentential vs. inter-sentential; insertion vs. alternation vs. borrowing); we thereby pay specific attention to the morphological and syntactic integration of sedimented and spontaneous borrowings as well as the occurrence of more or less fixed formulae (e.g. ‘you’re welcome’). Based on the findings, we discuss in how far classical formal categories of code-switching need to be revised when it comes to analyzing SMS data, which implies a generally enhanced view on code-switching as a whole. Moreover, we draw implications as to what the study of formal aspects of code-switching in SMS messages can tell us about the very nature of SMS communication and the plurilingual situation of Switzerland. References: Muysken, Pieter (2000): Bilingual speech. A typology of code-mixing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.