Language choice and language shift in a Chinese community in Britain
The Chinese are the third largest non-indigenous ethnic minority in Britain, but have hitherto figured little in sociolinguistic research. The aim of this thesis is to examine patterns of language choice by three generations of Chinese/English bilingual speakers in the Chinese community on Tyneside in the North East of England. The data for this analysis is collected within a broadly ethnographic framework, with attention to particularly relevant aspects of Chinese culture and informal social organisation. Specific issues investigated in the thesis include: i) degree and patterning of (Chinese/English) bilingualism within the Tyneside Chinese community; ii) strategies whereby people employ two different languages in conversational interaction; .iii) social mechanisms underlying language choice at both the community and interactional level. As well as providing systematic and a substantial amount of empirical data, the thesis aims to develop a social model, utilising the concept of social network, which can account for the relationship between code-switching and language choice by individual speakers, and for the relation of both to the broader social, economic and political context. Thus, while the exposition is presented primarily with reference to the example of the Tyneside Chinese community, it is intended to be applicable to a range of bilingual situations as well as Chinese communities elsewhere.