Functional Complementarity between Two Languages in ICQ

Dr Judy Woon Yee Ho
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Systemic functional theorists propose that language is a meaning-making system, and that function is the fundamental principle of language. When people use language, they make choices about the linguistic resources available to them in expressing ideational, interpersonal and textual meanings. Halliday further suggests a "functional complementarity" between speech and writing, which are ways of using language to do different things.

The present paper suggests that this concept takes on a new dimension as a result of two phenomena in computer-mediated communication: hybridization of spoken and written forms of a single language and hybridization of different languages. It investigates how bilingual individuals make use of different languages to understand and represent the world, to establish and maintain social relationships, to express attitudes and judgments, to construct an identity and to structure text. It is based on a linguistic analysis of forty ICQ histories (24490 lines) which have been collected from twenty-one tertiary students in Hong Kong. Six histories (1074 lines) are written in English letters and none in Chinese characters. About 96% of the ICQ histories are written in a switched code, i.e. an admixture of English and Chinese both at inter-sentential and intra-sentential levels. It will be demonstrated that one of the two languages used does things that the other does not do, or not as effectively and efficiently. Code-switching has enabled two languages to function complementarily in achieving maximum communicative effectiveness.

Keywords: Code-switching, Chinese and English bilingualism, Functional complementarity, ICQ
Stream: Language, Linguistics
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr Judy Woon Yee Ho

Assistant Professor, English Department, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Judy W. Y. Ho is an Assistant Professor in the English Department of Lingnan University, Hong Kong. She holds a B.A. (Hons) in English and a Certificate in Education (University of Hong Kong), an M.A. in Applied Linguistics (University of Sydney) and a Ph.D. in Linguistics (University of New England, Australia). She is also a NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters of Australia) Level 3 Cantonese interpreter and Mandarin translator. Her research interests include bilingualism, discourse analysis, language education and inter-cultural communication. She is the author of "Narrative Writing in Australian and Chinese Schools" (Peter Lang).

Ref: H05P0119