“The use of code-switching between English and Cantonese is mainly driven by pragmatic reasons”. Discuss the statement with reference to related previous research.

Topics: Gricean maxims, Pragmatics, Paul Grice Pages: 3 (1326 words) Published: November 1, 2014

Code-switching is a widespread phenomenon, however, its definition is not clear and it is often being mixed up with code-mixing. According to Scotton and Ury’s (1977), code-switching is defined as alternation between two or more languages by multilingual speakers in which they insert expressions of other languages into the originally-used language. Hong Kong was once a British colony where English was the only official language and English. After the handover, English continues to be an official language and maintains its importance. Thus the citizens have more contact with English than other Cantonese-speaking area and the citizens’ expressions are still influenced by English. As a result, Cantonese is interspersed with English. Besides, it is suggested that code-switching in Hong Kong is intrasentential and switching of linguistic units above clause level is not common (Li, 2000). In short, the citizens mainly code switch single words or short phrases. Among existing discussions, much focus has been placed on several linguistic perspectives, such as sociolinguistics and syntax; it is believed that the relation of code-switching and pragmatics is being ignored. This article, therefore, specifically investigates the relation of code-switching and pragmatics in an attempt to argue for a proposition--code-switching between English and Cantonese is mainly driven by pragmatic reasons. Pragmatics is the study of meaning in interaction, which studies both linguistics and situational elements (Thomas, 1995). In contrary to sociolinguistics which focuses on norms in society and syntax which studies the sentence formation, pragmatics emphasizes on contextual meaning of utterances. Since code-switching is used in conversational interaction, merely acknowledging norms in society and sentence formation without making reference to the meaning in interaction may not be comprehensive and persuasive to explain the practice. Thus three elements of pragmatics which are believed...

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