This study examined the code switching patterns in the speech of French-English bilingual children from British Columbia. Seven and 12-year-old children were divided in groups according to their age, and their speech was collected while they collaborated on a number of tasks in a non-academic, informal setting. This study presents the pragmatic functions of the children’s French and English code switches according to conversational context. In both age groups, the study found that children’s switches were used for a variety of purposes, including signalling a change in context, clarification, and representation of speech. The older children preferred English to express emotions or emotion words. The results suggest the children have developed bilingual speech patterns influenced by their families’ linguistic values, the French school system, and the community. They also show that children can use code switching as a means of establishing and changing power relations among the participants.
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Thesis advisor: Planchenault, Gaelle
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