Uses of English in a multilingual British peergroup
This research is innovative in its intensive focus on a multilingual peergroup in Britain. It studies a group of twenty-three boys of Indian, Pakistani, Afro-caribbean and Anglo parentage by means of interviews, questionnaires, participant-observation and radio-microphone recording. It addresses two main issues. The first issue situates the study within quantitative sociolinguistics. Following Le Page, the research asks: how is it possible to examine the social distribution of speech variants given the flexibility and mutability of group affiliation? Two empirical approaches are recommended: network analysis gives leverage on interactional association, and Identtty Structure Analysis assesses psycho-social identifications. The conceptual compatibility of these approaches is carefully stated, and a critique made of closely related sociolinguistics (Milroy and Giles). A demonstration analysis is conducted on two phonological variables, incorporating a critical evaluation of this methodology and suggestions for future use. The second theme concerns a form of secondary Foreigner Talk: what is happening when members of the multilingual peer-group deliberately speak Indian-accented English? Interactional sociolinguistics forms the initial reference-point, and a clarified elaboration of Gumperz's distinction between metaphorical and situational code-switching is developed, capable of addressing issues of social power, growth and marginalisation. Data on this rhetorical Indian English are examined in the light of this model, and then analysis shifts towards more macro perspectives, aligning itself more with the ethnography of speaking. It investigates perceptions of genuine Asian English speakers locally, and proposes that for bilinguals these vary systematically according to domain (local domains having been previously identified) • An outline is given of the impact of migration on the status of English, together with the colonial legacy of racist attitudes towards non-Anglo English in the dominant society. Finally an attempt is made to explicate the peer-group's use of secondary Foreigner Talk within this local and national matrix.