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Code-switching

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

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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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6. The Study

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This chapter shall introduce the case study of this book. First of all the fieldwork and the community will be presented; then, the two languages discussed here, Kurdish and German will be presented. The focus will be on the Kurdish language; an introduction to selected linguistic features of Kurdish in comparison to German will be discussed, specifically those linguistic aspects which are of certain importance in dealing with Kurdish-German CS data of the study.

6.1. The fieldwork: Kurdish immigrant community

The data source of this study is the Kurdish immigrant community in Austria. First of all it is necessary to make a socio-political remark regarding the origins and backgrounds of the immigrant community the study is based on.

The subjects of this study are pre-school Kurdish-German bilingual children from the Iraqi members of the Kurdish immigrant community in Austria. In general, the community has other members of the Republic of Turkey, Iran and Syria, where Kurds live. However, the origins of the members of the ethnic community of this study go back to Iraq. In Iraq the term "Kurdistan" is widely used to refer to the Kurdish area of northern Iraq, where Kurds predominate. After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 the region was recognized as the Kurdistan Region of Iraq by the new Iraqi constitution (Article 113, New Iraqi Constitution 2005).

The members of the community are somehow newcomers in Austria. Recently, at the beginning of the 1990s...

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