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Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication

Ed. by Piller, Ingrid

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Volume 23, Issue 4 (Dec 2004)


Social stratification and patterns of code-switching in Early English letters

Arja Nurmi
  • University of Helsinki.
/ Päivi Pahta
  • University of Helsinki.
Published Online: 2005-07-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mult.2004.23.4.417


The study deals with multilingualism in a historical perspective, focusing on code-switching between English and other languages in letters written in fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century England. The data is drawn from the Corpus of Early English Correspondence, a large electronic tool designed for historical sociolinguistic research. A related database containing background information on the writers makes it possible to apply the framework of correlational sociolinguistics. While testing the relationship of code-switching with many social variables, the study concentrates on social stratification. The analysis shows clear correlation between the writers' social rank and their code-switching behaviour both in terms of quantity and quality. Other interlinked variables such as gender and education are also significant. The study also confirms that for a full understanding of the phenomenon, microlevel analyses of idiolects and interpersonal relations are needed.

About the article

Published Online: 2005-07-27

Published in Print: 2004-12-01

Citation Information: Multilingua - Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication, ISSN (Online) 1613-3684, ISSN (Print) 0167-8507, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mult.2004.23.4.417. Export Citation

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