Speech Repertoires in Multilingual Settings: Various Codes of a Community

Annika Hohenthal, Department of English, University of Turku, Finland

Pandit (1979) has given an example of how a multilingual speaker might use the different codes in his repertoire. He describes an Indian businessman living in a suburb of Bombay. His mother tongue and home language is a dialect of Gujarati; in the market he uses a familiar variety of Marathi, the state language; at the railway station he speaks the pan-Indian lingua franca, Hindustani; the language of work is Kachi, the code of the spice trade; in the evening he will watch a film in Hindi or in English and listen to a cricket-match commentary on the radio in English. One can ask: what roles does each of these different languages and varieties perform in the community and the individual (ibid, 172-173)?

In a multilingual speech community a whole range of languages, or repertoire, is available to speakers, who choose to use some of them in their linguistic interaction to perform particular social roles. Repertoire applies at two different levels to both the community and the individual. A speaker does not usually control the whole range of the codes of a community's repertoire continuum but only a number of these (Hamers & Blanc 1989: 172-173).

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