Language Choice and Code-Switching in the Azerbaijani Community in Tehran : A conversation analytic approach to bilingual practices

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: This study examines language choice and code-switching patterns found in the Azerbaijani speech community in Tehran, Iran. Two empirical studies have been combined. The first involves a macro-social quantitative analysis of language choice on a community level, based on questionnaires, and the second involves a micro-interactional qualitative analysis of language choice and code-switching practices, based on tape recordings and participant observation. The results show that there is an on-going language shift occurring on the community level, from Azerbaijani-Persian bilingualism to monolingualism in Persian. The rate of this process differs depending on a number of social factors. However, the strong demographic support within this speech community makes the possibility of a total language shift unlikely. In fact, in contrast to the ongoing language shift there is a parallel movement towards the revitalization of the Azerbaijani culture and language. As far as language choice and code-switching practices on an individual level are concerned, a number of bilingual practices are found. Code-switching as a marked linguistic choice is used for a variety of purposes in argumentative and narrative opposition. It is at the same time demonstrated that a general preference for same language talk does not necessarily prevail among all bilingual speakers which allows for the use of a range of other linguistic as well as paralinguistic resources to produce interactionally marked choices in bilingual conversation.

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