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Speak English or What?Codeswitching and Interpreter Use in New York City Courts$
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Philipp Sebastian Angermeyer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199337569

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199337569.001.0001

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Indexicalities of language choice in small claims court

Indexicalities of language choice in small claims court

(p.1) 1 Indexicalities of language choice in small claims court
Speak English or What?

Philipp Sebastian Angermeyer

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces the major topics of the book, its methodology, and its theoretical background, focusing on the language choice of immigrant litigants in small claims court. These litigants vary between speaking in L2 English and speaking in another language that is translated by a court interpreter. Analyzing meta-pragmatic comments by other participants during courtroom interaction, it is shown that representatives of the court discourage the use of L2 English, whereas other participants may criticize the use of the other language. These practices are related to language ideologies about multilingualism and translation. In particular, an implicit policy requires litigants to speak only one language throughout the hearing but causes their language choice to be seen as indexical of their credibility or of their willingness to cooperate with the institution.

Keywords:   language choice, indexical, language ideology, small claims court, interaction

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