Language alternation and conversational repair in bilingual conversation

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Researchers have consistently reported language alternation in repair sequences in bilingual conversation. However, up until now, no systematic account of the relationship between language alternation and conversational repair has been put forward. The aim of this article is to fill this gap. Two main questions are addressed: (a) where in the repair sequence can language alternation occur? And (b) what does language alternation do in repair sequences when it occurs? Two main theoretical ideas are drawn upon in addressing these research questions, namely the fact that “nothing is, in principle, excludable from the class ‘repairable’” (Schegloff, Jefferson & Sacks, 1977, p. 363) and the fact that language choice itself is a “significant aspect of talk organisation” (Gafaranga, 1999). Applying these ideas, the article shows that language alternation can occur at any point in the repair sequence. As for the functionality of language alternation, the article shows that, among bilingual speakers, repair may be addressed to language choice itself. Alternatively, language alternation may be used as an additional resource in the organization of repair.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-527
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number4
Early online date22 Feb 2012
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2012


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