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Code-switching practices in Luxembourg’s Lusophone minority : a pilot study on how an immigrant community linguistically behaves differently from the majority

Stell, Gerald and Parafita Couto, Maria Del Carmen (2012) Code-switching practices in Luxembourg’s Lusophone minority : a pilot study on how an immigrant community linguistically behaves differently from the majority. Zeitschrift fur Sprachwissenschaft, 31 (1). 153–185. ISSN 0721-9067

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Abstract

Luxembourg is a multilingual country with Luxembourgish, French and German as official languages. It nowadays counts a large population (roughly 15 %) of native Portuguese speakers, of which the linguistic behaviour has come under close attention. This article purports to illustrate the grammatical and conversational characteristics of in-group codeswitching as observable among a small sample of Portuguese native speaking students, and to assess to what extent it differs from in-group codeswitching practices among a control group of native Luxembourgish-speaking students, with both samples having theoretically enjoyed similar access to the country’s official languages. It shows that grammatical patterns of code-switching in the former sample are both insertional and alternational, while they are overwhelmingly insertional in the latter sample, with French and Portuguese matrix clauses being generally less prone to insertions than Luxembourgish matrix clauses. It shows at a conversational level that the former sample mostly uses Luxembourgish as a language of in-group interaction, but also French and Portuguese, while the latter only uses Luxembourgish as a language of in-group interaction. Finally, it shows that alternations between Luxembourgish utterances and utterances in other languages in the former sample are not necessarily functional, while they tend to be in the latter sample.