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The Plurilingual Repertoire of the Comorian Community in Marseille: Remarks on Status and Function Based on Selected Sociolinguistic Biographies
Daniela Waldburger
261-270 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


With increasing migration and globalization languages and language usage it is becoming more important for identity construction of groups and individuals. In this paper the plurilingual mode (Matras 2009) of Comorian speakers in Marseille was assumed to be the unmarked case. Based on this assumption Matras points out that multilingual speakers do not simply switch off a language, but use one of the specific languages in the repertoire preferentially depending on context and where there are constraints on the language choice. Based on sociolinguistic biographies, status and prestige that speakers ascribe to the different language varieties will be illustrated. This also entails the functionality of the languages and varieties in their particular contexts. The Comoro islands' linguistic setting reflects its history; apart from the Comorian varieties, Arabic and Swahili have been prominent since early seafaring and trade interactions. Since French colonization, the French language has become equally important. Thus, for the already plurilingual Comorian first generation immigrants, migration to France was not a traumatic experience with respect to an unknown language. Instead, Comorians found and find themselves in an environment which is characterized and dominated by a code (French) that Comorian speakers already have at their disposal owing to their plurilingual repertoire.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference on African Linguistics: Linguistic Interfaces in African Languages
edited by lanik la Orie and Karen W. Sanders
Table of contents
Printed edition: $320.00