Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

E-mail this page 1

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Dissertation Information

Title: Constructing Sociability through Code-Switching in Mandarin-English Family Conversations Add Dissertation
Author: Susan Olmstead-Wang Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Alabama, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Completed in: 2004
Linguistic Subfield(s): Discourse Analysis; Sociolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin
Director(s): Lucy Pickering
Catherine Davies
Janis Nuckolls
Beth Daniell

Abstract: This research illuminates processes of code-switching as integral parts of family dynamics in the construction and maintenance of sociability in bilingual conversation. No research to date has examined use of code-switching in the intimate contact situations of same-generation bilingual conversations that include native and non-native speakers of the matrix language, Mandarin. Because Chinese and English are two dominant languages in the world, and contact between them on all levels will increase. The study provides a detailed description of switching between Mandarin and English in the intimate language contact situation of family conversations as it serves to build sociability among interlocutors. In the conversations examined, Mandarin is the dominant language and switches are made into English, the nondominant language. Gathered over a period of a year, my data includes 8.5 hours of audiotaped conversations in which four family members informally discuss a variety of topics in a series of roughly 30 minute conversations. The focus of this dissertation is on three of these conversations. Three interlocutors speak Taiwanese as a native language and Mandarin as a second native language, and one, a participant observer, speaks English as a native language and Mandarin as a second language. Using an interactional framework and drawing on Gumperz' notion of the emergent, socially co-constructed quality of conversation, I use discourse analysis to examine dynamics of the conversations. Findings show that code-switching is a positive additive strategy that interlocutors use to construct sociability through politeness and face work in a crosscultural language contact situation.