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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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Codeswitching in the courtroom

Codeswitching in the courtroom

(p.142) 6 Codeswitching in the courtroom
Speak English or What?

Philipp Sebastian Angermeyer

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates codeswitching and insertion in the speech of litigants, relating both phenomena to the interactional and macrosociolinguistic context of interpreter-mediated small claims court proceedings. All litigants who speak a language other than English codeswitch to English or use English insertions. This, demonstrates the degree to which they participate in the English part of the interaction and relate their own talk to that of the arbitrator and other English-speaking participants. Both codeswitching and insertions are used in interactionally meaningful ways, and they can be interpreted as instances of accommodation. At the same time, these practices conflict with interpreting, as insertion/borrowing blurs the boundaries between the languages, while codeswitching to English competes with the interpreter’s institutional task of speaking in English for the litigant. It also, challenges the epistemic authority of the interpreter to determine the meaning of the testimony given by speakers of a language other than English.

Keywords:   codeswitching, insertion, accommodation, lexical repetition, epistemic authority, language ideology

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