The pragmatic role of codeswitching in play contexts

Eurydice Bouchereau Bauer, Joan Kelly Hall, Kirsten Kruth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Some of the theory and research on bilingualism and bilingual development have assumed the monolingual user as the norm. Recent development on the notion of multicompetence has questioned the validity of the monolingual norm, suggesting instead that multiple language users are uniquely distinct from monolinguals. In this study we describe one child's(Elena) varied uses of two languages, English and German, as she interacts with her adult caregivers during play. We used two broad questions to guide the study: What kinds of play activity are Elena and her adult interlocutors involved in? How does Elena use her two languages to constitute her involvement in play? The findings revealed that Elena took part in three different play activities(shared-role; adult as leader; and child as leader) which provided her opportunities to use different language functions to realize similar kinds of play. There were subtle differences in her language use during play in both English and German play events, which suggest that through her interactions with different interlocutors in play she was learning and rehearsing different communicative skills in both languages. The findings suggest that involvement in play activities with adult caregivers can result in the development of pragmatically differentiated bilinguals both in terms of code use and language functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-74
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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