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Linguistic Association of the Southwest


This paper reports on data collected in service encounters in New York and California. Assuming the role of customer, fieldworkers visited businesses and addressed service workers in Spanish. In the majority of 715 encounters, accommodation to the customer's language choice came at the first turn. That is, in the worker's next turn after having been addressed in Spanish, he or she commenced to speak in that language. In a minority of instances the worker maintained English throughout the exchange, even as the customer continued to speak only Spanish. In other encounters, the worker engaged in codeswitching between Spanish and English. These are the cases examined here. It is shown that on most of these occasions the worker's codeswitches instantiate a form of accommodation to the customer. The worker accomplishes this by matching the customer's language choice, or by responding to his or her perceived linguistic affiliation or linguistic abilities.


Reprinted with permission.



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