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Share Paper 1014

Lexical Cohesion as a Motivation for Codeswitching: Evidence from Spanish-English Bilingual Speech in Court Testimonies
Philipp Sebastian Angermeyer
112-122 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Based on an analysis of Spanish-English bilingual mediation and arbitration hearings in small claims court, this study investigates the discourse function of the insertion of lexical items from one language into a structure from another language, which is arguably the most widespread feature of bilingual speech and codeswitching. Drawing on Halliday and Hasan's (1976) notion of lexical cohesion, the author argues that insertions are a consequence of a bilingual speaker's attempt to create coherence between utterances in different languages. The analysis of such insertional codeswitching in court testimonies raises questions about the relationship between codeswitching and court interpretation, an issue that has rarely been addressed in research on Spanish-English court interpretation in the United States. While intersentential codeswitching is found to potentially alienate and disorient interpreters, it is claimed that insertions may have positive affects on the accuracy of interpretation and on the interaction between litigants and court officials as a whole, as these insertions enable Spanish-dominant litigants to actively create coherence between their utterance and the preceding context, instead of relying on the interpreter to do so.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the First Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics
edited by Lotfi Sayahi
Table of contents
Printed edition: $180.00