The Roles of Code-Switching and Laughter in the Use of English as a Lingua Franca
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The number of people who speak English as a lingua franca (ELF) in personal and professional settings has grown steadily in accordance with progress in communication and increase in international cooperation. Consequently, scholars have suggested that the language world might be in need of a move away from the standard language ideology, towards a recognition of ELF speakers as proficient language users. The exploration of this question requires empirical description of ELF, both within phonology, linguistics and pragmatics. This thesis aims to contribute to this description by exploring the functions of two features that have been explored to a lesser extent in conversational ELF settings, namely code-switching and laughter. The findings in this qualitative study are drawn from two hours of audio-recorded semi-structured ELF conversations between international students in a Norwegian university. The data is examined through the means of conversation analysis and discussed in light of existing research on ELF interaction. Overall, the functions of code-switching and laughter in this study aligns quite well with previous research in the field. Code-switching served mainly four functions: expressing language nuances not available in English, expressing a sense of cultural identity or possibly group-affiliation, conveying meaning through choice of language, and navigating obstructions to the flow of conversation. Laughter was used as a pragmatic strategy in order to mitigate and change own utterances, to signal support, politeness, or playfulness, and consequently seemed to play important roles in relieving tension, avoiding conflicts and minimising disagreement. Collectively, these findings suggest that the ELF speakers in this particular study were supportive and consensus-oriented interlocutors who utilised code-switching and laughter as pragmatic and communicative strategies in order to navigate various conversational situations with efficiency and precision.