Emerging bilingual speech: from monolingualism to code-switching. A case of young Estonian Russian-speakers


Anastassia Zabrodskaja


Tallinn University, Tallinn, Estonia


Russian is one of the ‘migrant’ languages spoken in Estonia and it has intensive contacts with Estonian, the majority language. The study is concerned with conversational functions of Russian-Estonian code-switching in Kohtla-Järve, which is a specific region in terms of population structure: Estonians from 20.9 % and Russians 79.1 %. It analyses the data collected between 2000 and 2006 at different occasions: the Estonian language summer camp of Kohtla-Järve Third Secondary School, the summer camps of Kohtla-Järve Pärna School. The analysis is based on the framework of conversational approach. Many instances of Russian-Estonian code-switching reveal that the grammatical properties of switches are often dictated by pragmatic goals. Seven conversational functions were found in the data in connection with intrasentential/extrasentential switches. Language play and expressive function are encountered most frequently. The language of the quotations is usually Estonian when referring to an interaction with an Estonian-speaking person. Code switches as reiterations are used for clarifying, emphasizing or amplifying a message. The nature of short interactions restricts the possibility of detecting switchings related to the change in participant constellation or topic, but some examples do appear in the data. Quite infrequently, switching may serve to mark side-comments.


code-switching; conversational functions; children; pragmatic; Russian; Estonian


This research was supported by the Estonian Science Foundation, grant 6151 “Child language, interlanguage and code-switching corpora creation and description”.

Publication Date

March 15, 2007


Volume 1, Issue 1

Citation information

Zabrodskaja, Anastassia. 2007. “Emerging bilingual speech: from monolingualism to code-switching. A case of young Estonian Russian-speakers.” Language. Text. Society 1 (1): e43-e65. https://ltsj.online/2007-01-1-zabrodskaja. (Journal title at the time of publication: SamaraAltLinguo E-Journal).


author = {Zabrodskaja, Anastassia},
title = {{Emerging bilingual speech: from monolingualism to code-switching. A case of young Estonian Russian-speakers}},
journal = {Language. Text. Society},
year = {2007},
volume = {1},
number = {1},
pages = {43–65},
url = {https://ltsj.online/2007-01-1-zabrodskaja/},


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