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The Multilingual InternetLanguage, Culture, and Communication Online$
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Brenda Danet and Susan C. Herring

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304794

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304794.001.0001

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Language Choice on a Swiss Mailing List

Language Choice on a Swiss Mailing List

(p.319) 14 Language Choice on a Swiss Mailing List
The Multilingual Internet

Mercedes Durham

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   code switching, discussion lists, English, French, German, Italian, lingua franca, medical students, Switzerland

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