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    How code-switching mediates politeness: gender-related speech among London Greek-Cypriots

    Gardner-Chloros, Penelope and Finnis, K. (2004) How code-switching mediates politeness: gender-related speech among London Greek-Cypriots. Estudios de Sociolinguistica 4 (2), pp. 505-533. ISSN 1576-7418.

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    In this study we explore the three-way link between three topics which are usually studied independently in sociolinguistics, namely code-switching (CS), gender and politeness. Whilst steering clear of simplistic correlations between language and gender, we show how women in this community exploit CS in carrying out certain direct speech acts traditionally viewed as unfeminine. Conversational analysts often describe CS as a site for constructing meaning through juxtaposition, the direction of the switch being less important than the fact of the contrast. Nevertheless, an ethnographic study such as this shows the potential importance of associations between each language and relevant shared meanings. Switches into Greek are employed to evoke shared cultural connotations and by extension to create humour, to create a bond/show sympathy to the interlocutor, and to legitimize directness in giving orders or making requests, Greek being a language in which such directness is markedly greater than in English. Thus, through their use of CS, women in particular enact various politeness strategies, both positive and negative. This study confirms the value of studying both politeness and gender not only cross-culturally, but specifically in bi/plurilingual contexts, as a study of CS allows strategies and constraints which could pass unobserved in monolingual speech to be clearly highlighted.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2016 14:39
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:38


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