Ma. Lourdes S. Bautista on code-switching31 August 2009 at 6:09 AM | Posted in News | 2 Comments
In the August 29 issue of the newspaper Manila Bulletin, linguist Ma. Lourdes S. Bautista summarizes current linguistic theory about code-switching:
“There was a time, some 40 years ago, when Taglish [Tagalog + English] was frowned upon. This was because Taglish was associated with a speaker’s inability to use either Tagalog or English in complete discourse. It was a sign of lack of proficiency in one of the two languages. This can be called ‘deficiency-driven code switching.’ …
“But the more common kind of code switching now can be called ‘proficiency-driven code switching.’ This is the kind used by people who are proficient in both languages and who code-switch for purposes of communicative efficiency. I believe that bilinguals (and most Filipinos are bilingual, even trilingual) have the strategic competence to ‘calculate,’ in a sense, which language would provide the most expressive, most concise way of saying something. This kind of strategic competence is currently very evident in texting [SMS] – the texter can choose between English, Tagalog, or Taglish to state the message in the fastest, easiest way possible.”
As it has always done, literature leads the way in the uses of language. Multilingual literary texts are written by writers proficient, not deficient in language skills. The general population (those using SMS) are reaping the benefits of the efforts of literary writers (admittedly and necessarily, a small percentage of the world’s population) to break down the barriers between languages and to harness the best qualities of every language in the service of effective and pleasurable communication. Linguists explore universes of discourse where literary writers and critics have gone before.