Linguistik online  5, 1/00

Language choice in bilingual, cross-cultural interpersonal communication

Ingrid Piller
Hamburg University


This paper has three objectives: First, I am arguing for a social constructionist approach to the study of intercultural communication. Second, the discussion of my research design is intended to contribute to methods in the study of intercultural communication. Third, I am identifying language choice as a major factor in the linguistic construction of cultural identity. Through their language choices, bilingual couples most often align themselves with the majority. However, they may also actively construct themselves as intercultural border-crossers by the use of a mixed code, or even as minority members, which happens when both minority and majority partner use the minority language. The reasons the couples themselves identify for their choices are 'habit' and 'compensation.'

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