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A Case Study of Kurdish-German Pre-school Bilingual Children


Baban Mohamed

The state of acquiring more than one language as a child or an adult is not the exception; it is rather an everyday reality for a quite substantial part of today’s society. This book explores the phenomenon of code-switching within the field of child bilingualism from both linguistic and sociolinguistic perspectives. Based on collected data from Kurdish-German pre-school bilingual children in Austria, this empirical study aims at giving an analysis of linguistic and extra-linguistic factors that constrain child code-switching. The book shows specific interest in practices of code switching and mixing as displayed by Kurdish subjects of the study and in how far these can be sufficiently explained by existing models of (adult) bilingual language behavior. The results clearly show that code-switching can be related to the identity and characteristics of the speakers or to aspects of their social life, and that it can be subconsciously used to manage conflict when different languages are associated with different roles in a community.
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5. Speech community


5.1. Use of the term

Sociolinguistic studies point out that it is not possible to use the term ‘speech community’ without much difficulty, a term which probably derived from the German Sprachgemeischaft. In sociolinguistics, as Patrick (2002: 574) stresses, there is remarkably little agreement on the use of the term- speech community. For example, the term has been used for both large and small geographically bounded urban communities; for minority groups; for urban immigrants, as distinct from both their source and target groups. However, cutting across geographic lines, the term has been used to refer to very general assemblages such as children.

In early studies, the term has been used to refer to people who use the same speech signals and thereby emphasize large-scale groups that share a language. In this way, Chomsky (1965: 3) for instance, describes the ideal speaker in the ideal speech community, and proposes the notion of a completely homogeneous speech community. In contrary to this approach, Wardhaugh (1986: 121) emphasizes that the concept of speech community must be flexible and that choosing a group to be identified with the term speech community should change according to situation. The author explains the case of an immigrant community member who lives in a bilingual setting. In such a case, a bilingual speaker from the community may switch her/his speech from one speech community to another, possibly even in the course of a single utterance. Thus, s/he may belong to one speech...

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