Token codeswitching and language alternation in narrative discourse: a functional-pragmatic approach

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This study is concerned with two phenomena of language alternation in biographic narrations in Yiddish and Low German, based on spoken language data recorded between 1988 and 1995. In both phenomena language alternation serves as an additional communicative tool which can be applied by bilingual speakers to enlarge their set of interactional devices in order to ensure a smoother or more pointed processing of communicative aims. The first phenomenon is a narrative strategy I call Token Cod-eswitching: In a bilingual narrative culminating in a line of reported speech, a single element of L2 indicates the original language of the reconstructed dialogue – a token for a quote. The second phenomenon has to do with directing procedures, carried out by the speaker and aimed at guiding the hearer's attention, which are frequently carried out in L2, supporting the hearer's attention at crucial points in the interaction. Both phenomena are analyzed following a model of narrative discourse as proposed in the framework of Functional Pragmatics. The model allows the adoption of an integral approach to previous findings in code-switching research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-194
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • language alternation
  • biographic narrations
  • Yiddish
  • Low German
  • bilingual speakers
  • interactional devices
  • Token Cod-eswitching
  • Functional Pragmatics
  • code-switching research


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