Codeswitching may be broadly defined as the use of two or more linguistic varieties in the same conversation. Using data from multilingual African context, Carol Myers-Scotton advances a theoretical argument which aims at a general explanation of the motivations underlying the phenomenon. She treats codeswitching as a type of skilled performance, not as the 'alternative strategy' of a person who cannot carry on a conversation in the language in which it began. Speakers exploit the socio=psychological values associated with different linguistic varieties in a particular speech community: by switching codes speakers negotiate a change in social distance between themselves and other participants in a conversation. Switching between languages has much in
common with making stylistic choices within the same language: it is as if bilingual and multilingual speakers have an additional style at their command when they engage in codeswitching. _
Readership: Sociolinguists, anthropological linguists, social anthropologists, social psychologists; Africanists of any discipline.
Carol Myers-Scotton, Professor of Linguistics and English, University of South Carolina
"a unique theoretical synthesis that organizes and explains" - Language and Society