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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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Preface

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It is a truism that in our world some form of bilingualism has become part of most people's lives. Nevertheless our knowledge of the processes involved in the acquisition and the use of two or more languages by bilinguals has in many ways remained incomplete. Moreover, most research in the field has focused on adult bilingualism and has little to say about the development of bilingualism in individuals. What is badly needed are accounts of how children develop the functions and roles of different languages and how they manage to keep the language systems apart or switch from one to the other - not arbitrarily or due to a lack of competence as sometimes has been suggested but purposefully and with functions in mind.

Therefore it is of great importance that we have empirical studies such as the one by Baban Mohamed. His focus of interest is on the language behaviour of Kurdish pre-school children in Austria, who were born in Austria and have learnt Kurdish in their families and German through contact with German speaking playmates and in kindergartens. The study, which is a slightly modified version of his MA diploma thesis, shows specific interest in practices of code switching and mixing as displayed by his Kurdish subjects and in how far these can be sufficiently explained by existing models of (adult) bilingual language behavior.

What makes the study specifically interesting is the fact that the two languages involved, Kurdish and German, are...

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