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Review of  Bilingualism and Social Relations

Reviewer: Janet M. Fuller
Book Title: Bilingualism and Social Relations
Book Author: J. Normann Jørgensen
Publisher: Multilingual Matters
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Book Announcement: 15.1610

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Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 21:15:33 -0400
From: Janet Fuller <>
Subject: Bilingualism and Social Relations: Turkish Speakers in NW Europe

EDITOR: J. Normann Jørgensen
TITLE: Bilingualism and Social Relations
SUBTITLE: Turkish Speakers in North Western Europe
PUBLISHER: Multilingual Matters Ltd.
YEAR: 2003

Janet M. Fuller, Department of Linguistics, Southern Illinois
University at Carbondale.

[The reviewer reports that the cover of the book lists its title as
''Bilingualism and Social Change'', so refers to ''social change'' rather
than ''social relations'' in her review. --Eds.]

This book is a welcome addition to the literature on bilingualism in
that it presents views of language use in Denmark, Germany and the
Netherlands which show the many and varied roles of immigrant languages
in these countries. Also published as vol. 24, Nos 1 & 2 of the Journal
of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, this collection stresses
social roots and consequences of language choice, but does not neglect
the analysis of locally-motivated code-switching.

Chapter 1 is an introduction by the editor which provides an excellent
history of the field of sociolinguistics and a background for the
position of the chapters in this volume: linguistic variation creates
social structures and social differences. Of the subsequent seven
chapters, four analyze data from a longitudinal study of Turkish-Danish
bilinguals (the Køge project). This project, which follows bilingual
children through nine years of linguistic and social development,
provides an unprecedented amount of data on the development of
bilingualism. Thus, these data are ideal for the aim of this volume,
i.e., looking at bilingualism and social change. Two of the other
chapters in this volume look at Turkish speakers in Germany, and the
remaining chapter presents survey data from adolescents with and
without a (Turkish) migrant background in the Netherlands and Denmark.

The second and third chapters involve analyses of Turkish speakers in
Germany. 'Mixed Language Varieties of Migrant Adolescents and the
Discourse of Hybridity', written by Volker Hinnenkamp, involves a
discussion of both local and global functions of code-switching. Local
functions include such patterns as using Turkish to relate events of a
narrative, and German to comment upon them; but such patterns are never
categorical in the data. Also present is the use of codes to index
certain societal roles and meanings; most notably, the use of
Gastarbeiterdeutsch (guest worker German, or immigrants' pidgin German)
to mock not only people who actually speak German this way, but also
the majority German prejudice that Turks cannot master the German
language. In this way, the language of these bilinguals is indicative
of their identity, which contrasts with both older generation of Turks
and Germans without a migrant background.

The other contribution using data from Germany is titled 'Cultural
Orientation and Language Use Among Multilingual Youth Groups: ''For me
it is like we all speak one language''', and is written by Inci Dirim
and Andreas Hieronymus. This chapter discusses the acquisition of
Turkish, a minority language in Germany, by speakers of non-Turkish
descent, and the use of German-Turkish code-switching as an unmarked
choice. This linguistic behavior can be seen as resistance to the
expectations of the majority, i.e. assimilation to the majority
language and culture, and restricted use of minority languages. Use of
Turkish by speakers of non-Turkish descent is most prevalent in the
lower-income multi-ethnic networks, but can also be seen among
university-bound adolescents who inhabit multilingual and multicultural

Jacob Cromdal, the author of the fourth chapter, writes on 'The
Creation and Administration of Social Relations in Bilingual Group
Work'. Using data from the Køge project, this analysis shows how
language, and language choice, are used by one dominant speaker in a
small group interaction to impose the task of narrative construction
upon the group, while at the same time curtailing their participation
in the task. All the speakers in this interaction use code-switching
for expression of affect and to indicate alignment; the dominant
speaker is simply the most effective code-switcher. However, Cromdal
argues that for this speaker, it is not code-switching per se which is
powerful, but how it is used to manipulate alliances in order to
achieve her goal of completing the task of creating a narrative.

The fifth chapter was authored by Trine Esdahl, and looks at 'Language
Choice as a Power Resource in Bilingual Adolescents' Conversations in
the Danish Folkeskole'. This analysis of data from the Køge project
looks at gender differences in code-switching patterns. Seventh grade
appears to be a turning point at which both boys and girls use more
Danish in interactions with their peers, although this pattern is more
dramatic among the girls. This language choice reflects a recognition
of the societal norms for use of their two languages (i.e., Danish has
more overt prestige and thus is used more, at least in the public arena
of school). However, these children also use code-switching
strategically to establish and maintain their roles and positions
within the group.

Lian Malai Madsen's contribution, 'Power Relationships, Interactional
Dominance and Manipulation Strategies in Group Conversations of
Turkish-Danish Children', also addresses gender differences in data
from the Køge project. She finds that in grade 2 -4, girls in same-sex
interactions are linguistically more competitive than boys, as
evidenced by their higher rates of new initiatives and non-focally
linked utterances. Boys in same-sex interactions use more focally
linked utterances and responding initiatives, which she describes as
more coherent linguistic behavior. However, in mixed-sex groups, girls
adapt to the more coherent style of the boys. Further, her analysis of
disputes shows that the individuals who are winning their disputes in
second grade continue to wield power over their peers throughout
primary school, suggesting that social roles are created at an early
age and are not apt to change.

The seventh chapter of this volume deviates from the type of analysis
exhibited in the other contributions in that it employs data from a
written survey. Erica Huls, Ad Backus, Saskia Klomps, and Jens Norman
Jørgensen's chapter, 'Adolescents Involved in the Construction of
Equality in Urban Multicultural Settings', uses Politeness Theory to
explain request choices in a survey completed by adolescents in
Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and Køge (Denmark). The respondents
included groups of youths with a background of migration from Turkey,
and those without a migration background. The Turkish-background youths
in Rotterdam responded in ways that would be predicted by Politeness
Theory -- i.e., they used a wide range of forms of requests (from
'careful' to 'straightforward') depending on the interlocutor. However,
all of the other three groups (Dutch youths with no migration
background, and groups of adolescents both with and without a migration
background from Køge) were oriented to the construction of equality,
albeit to varying degrees. That is, they used forms which were
relatively 'straightforward' for all addressees. These provocative
findings challenge the idea that social hierarchy is expressed in
language behavior, or that the construct of social hierarchy is

The final chapter, by the editor Jens Norman Jørgensen, is titled
'Languaging Among Fifth Graders: Code-Switching in Conversation 501 of
the Køge Project'. Jørgensen discusses three strong societal forces on
language choice, and goes on to show how the children ''with
premeditation, pleasure, virtuosity, skill and wonderful effects'' (p.
145) violate all three of these norms. The first norm, language
hierarchy, is violated when high status languages (English, Sealand
Danish, and Swedish) are used mockingly. The second, the double
monolingualism view (i.e., the view that bilinguals should function
just like monolinguals in each of their languages), is violated by
their persistent code-switching. The third norm, described as a
generally negative evaluation of teenagers' speech, is violated by the
verbal fights, word play, screams and curses they use which are a model
of the type of language adults disparage. Despite the role of bi- or
multilingualism necessary for the violation of the first two norms,
Jørgensen stresses that this type of language use is typical of all
adolescent speech: it uses whatever varieties are in the children's
repertoire to negotiate their social roles and relationships.

Overall, these studies contribute both valuable data and thoughtful
analyses to the field of bilingualism. There are, however, some
shortcomings to the volume. Hinnenkamp's article would be more
accessible if his discussion of 'speaking mixed' came first, and his
examples were more clearly tied to this overarching theme (although
admittedly, the data themselves make fascinating reading). The
following chapter by Dirim and Hieronymus offers a more clearly laid
out framework, but less application of that framework with reference to
the actual examples than one might hope for. Both of the articles which
deal explicitly with language and gender (by Esdahl and Masden) do a
nice job of presenting their results, but rely only minimally on the
vast body of literature on language, gender and power. The final
article by Jørgensen, although in many ways the finest of the volume,
comes close to undermining its own agenda by insisting that the bi- (or
multi-) lingual children in his study are no different than monolingual
ones. His point is well-taken -- all adolescents do use their
linguistic repertoires in similar ways; what varies is the repertoires.
However, I would argue that the ability of these children to chose
different languages, with vastly different social statuses and
functions, is a critical part of what makes these data part of social

These articles, in addition to providing a picture of the linguistic
landscape in northwestern Europe, also offer insights to those of us
who deal with similar phenomena in different locations. These studies
contain a rich smorgasbord of ideas and perspectives which can inform
studies of code-switching and variation everywhere.
Janet M. Fuller is an Associate Professor of Linguistics and
Anthropology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Her research
interests include bilingualism and language contact, discourse analysis,
and language and gender. She is currently involved in a project examining
the language choices and identity negotiation of Mexican-American youths
in a bilingual classroom.

Format: Hardback
ISBN: 1853596507
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 160
Prices: U.K. £ 25.95