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The Russians are 'chilling:' A study of codemixing in the Russian community of Pittsburgh, PA.

Bratman, Ilya (2006) The Russians are 'chilling:' A study of codemixing in the Russian community of Pittsburgh, PA. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study describes patterns of code-switching, code-mixing and borrowing in the speech and behavior of 25 participants, native Russian speakers and English bilinguals, currently residing in Pittsburgh, PA. Even though these speakers choose to code-mix naturally, I hypothesize that the choice of English verb stems is morphophonologically constrained according to the specific limitations created by Russian linguistic structure and phonemic inventory. I focus on verb borrowing and explore to what degree Russian morphological structure affects the borrowing and code-mixing of the English verbs into predominantly Russian speech. The results reveal that the speakers accept and prefer to code-mix specific verbs according to morphophonological constraints and that age of arrival and time in country correlate with the acceptability judgments of the speakers. I propose that this speech community presents a case of code-mixing, where both languages are unmarked and freely embedded into the matrix of everyday communication of the participants. I utilize Myers-Scotton's (1993a) Matrix Language-Frame Model to describe the patterns of code-mixing in this speech community. Her hypotheses are described and contrasted with the findings of this thesis. I postulate that the type of code-mixing that exists in this speech community is not specific to certain practices or speech events. The study demonstrates that the pattern of speech represents a recognized norm within the group. The switch is an unmarked choice for all of the members of this speech community, which in turn defines and separates the group from the other members of the overall Russian-speaking community, specifically by age. This paper suggests that a gap exists in the literature on code-switching as it rarely describes any cases from the Russian-English bilingual community and from any speech community where neither language possesses an indexicality of power and is somehow hierarchically placed within the language matrix of the community. Specific languages appear during specific topics of discussion and discourse contexts, however I suggest that in this particular speech community, the speakers do not assign dominance to Russian or English and code-mix freely, limited and restricted only by discourse and topic issues and morphophonological constraints.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bratman, Ilyailb5@pitt.eduILB5
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKiesling, Scottkiesling@pitt.eduKIESLING
Committee MemberJuffs, Alanjuffs@pitt.eduJUFFS
Committee MemberO'Rourke, Erineorourke@pitt.eduEOROURKE
Date: 28 September 2006
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 27 July 2006
Approval Date: 28 September 2006
Submission Date: 9 August 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: borrowing; codeswitching
Other ID:, etd-08092006-155653
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:58
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:48


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