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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Marcia Buell

Name: Marcia Buell, English Department

Presentation Title: "Second Language Writers in First Language Settings"

Date: October 18, 2001


A major research area in sociolinguistics is the field of code switching. Code switching has generally been explored as an aspect of speech (rather than writing) in which speakers switch back an forth between two separate languages or dialects. More broadly, code switching occurs in monolingual situations when a speaker changes register or style. Though such changes are well-documented in bilingual or cross-cultural speaking situations, code switching is seldom discussed in relation to second language writing. ESL theory and pedagogy have tended to favor explorations of syntactic or semantic errors or organizational features that are connected to cultural thought patterns, in a field known as Contrastive Rhetoric.

In this paper Marcia argues that both cross-lingual and broader manifestations of code switching occur in writing when identity features, language background and language comfort, styles of writing (such as personal versus academic) and cultural world views butt up against each other. Such switching occurs for all writers, whether they are using their first of second languages; however, with second language writing, such interactions appear in stark relief, because the resultant text stand out as non-native. In this session, Marcia discusses matrices in which code switching may occur and apply these matrices to a sample peiece of text. Audience participation will be invited.