Manipulating the context: The use of English borrowings as a discourse strategy by Tamil fish vendors

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Abstract

The study explores the discourse strategies behind the use of English (lexical) borrowings by Tamil fish vendors in bargaining interactions. Although the type of borrowings suggests the limited English competence and low socio-economic status of the vendors, they are used with rhetorical and social complexity. In reconstructing their own identity, the identity of the buyers, the group membership of both, and the definition of the situation, the largely monolingual vendors use borrowings to out-bargain bilingual middle-class buyers. Thus the vendors subtly resist the dominant social stratification at least temporarily to achieve economic gain. Such strategies demonstrate the potential of language to actively reconstruct social context in order to represent the interests of particular groups of speakers. The study develops an approach to code choice as context-creating and politico-economically motivated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-24
Number of pages20
JournalMultilingua
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

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