Creating a ‘new space’: code-switching among British-born Greek-Cypriots in London

Finnis, Katerina (2013) Creating a ‘new space’: code-switching among British-born Greek-Cypriots in London. Pragmatics and Society, 4 (2). pp. 137-157. ISSN 1878-9714

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This paper, located in the traditions of Interactional Sociolinguistics (Gumperz 1982) and Social Constructionism (Berger and Luckmann 1966), explores code-switching and identity practices amongst British-born Greek-Cypriots. The speakers, members of a Greek-Cypriot youth organization, are fluent in English and (with varying levels of fluency) speak the Greek-Cypriot Dialect. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of recordings of natural speech during youth community meetings and a social event show how a new ‘third space’ becomes reified through code-switching practices. By skilfully manipulating languages and styles, speakers draw on Greek-Cypriot cultural resources to accomplish two inter-related things. First, by displaying knowledge of familiar Greek-Cypriot cultural frames, they establish themselves as different from mainstream British society and establish solidarity as an in-group. Secondly, by using these frames in non-serious contexts, and at times mocking cultural attitudes and stereotypes, they challenge and re-appropriate their inherited Greek-Cypriot identity, thereby constructing the identity of British-born Greek-Cypriot youth.

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