Language Choice on a Swiss Mailing List
This chapter examines the linguistic choices made by multilingual Swiss medical students on an asynchronous Internet discussion list. A quantitative analysis of language choice in over 1,000 messages sent to the list over a period of four calendar years shows that English was progressively adopted as the lingua franca by the French, German, and Italian native speaking members of the association, largely superceding the use of their native languages. The analysis also reveals that although some messages were in English, French, and German, only a small minority of messages contain code switching. A qualitative analysis of participants' linguistic choices and their own metalinguistic commentary provides clues as to why English has gained in importance on this list and in Switzerland as a whole.
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