The video is taken from a popular sitcom, called “Q-елі”, among the Kazakhstani youth. In this episode the main actress (Ainura) of the sitcom is at an online job interview, and during the interview one can immediately notice the patterns of language variation.
Analyzing the video, I identified style shifting, language crossing, linguistic hybridity, and code mixing:
- Style shifting. As Jaspers (2010) defines style is “a way of doing something” (p 178), and in this video they use style shifting for several times, taking into account each others’ way of speaking. For instance, in the very beginning when Ainura starts with “привет!” [hi in Russian] in an informal way, and after getting the answer “саламатсыз ба!” (a formal way of greeting in Kazakh) she immediately shifts to a formal speech also.
- Language crossing. Rampton (1997) explains language crossing “involves a sense of movement across quite sharply felt social or ethnic boundaries” (p 1). So, there are some patterns of crossing, when being ethnic Kazakh Ainura pretended as if she knew English. However, when the interviewer started speaking English she ended up saying “yes! Қалай еді? Мен білемін негізі. Если честно, я когда училась, я болела.” (“yes! How was it? Actually I know it [English]. To be honest, I was ill when I studied”). From this point I can see noticeable movements from English to Kazakh, and from Kazakh to Russian.
- Linguistic hybridity. Hybridity “offers space for new identities that are seen as the product of mixing” (Sandhu & Higgins, 2016, p 182). I found hybridity occurring 9 times in the video: кандидатураңызды, резюмеңіз, ссылкамен, страницаңыз, отечеством, Officialқызы, Stanfordе, followerім, номерыңызды. These words are done by adding Kazakh endings to the Russian or English stems.
- Code mixing means “the embedding of various linguistic units such as affixes, words, phrases and clauses from a co-operative activity where the participants, in order to infer what is intended, must reconcile what they hear with what they understand” (Ayeomoni, 2006, p 2). The participants use code mixing almost 90% of their speech, and each of them mixed 2 (Kazakh and Russian) or 3 (Kazakh, Russian, and English) languages in almost every sentence.
I find the usage of the English language in the job interview as the token of English being prestige language, and it implies that only well educated people, who studied abroad, are supposed to speak it. For instance, Ainura wrote in her CV she studied at Stanford University; consequently the interviewer got interested in it, and started speaking English. Furthermore, on the one hand, Russian is likely to be taken as more literary language than Kazakh for the actress as in the section ‘favourite quotation’ Ainura wrote Russian expression in her CV («меня трудно найти, легко потерять, невозможно забыть» – it is difficult to find me, easy to lose, and impossible to forget), and even when the interviewer asked to explain the meaning in Kazakh (оны қалай түсінеміз? – how should we understand it?) she replied in Russian again (любить не значит терять, терять не значит любить – to love does not mean to lose, and to lose does not mean to love). On the other hand, it may show that Ainura’s dominant language (L1) is Russian, and it is more comfortable for her to express her opinion in Russian. Moreover, it is obviously seen “shala Kazakh” when ethnic Kazakhs start speaking Kazakh combining with Russian or English in their communication throughout the video.
However, as the video is a short fragment from a sitcom there is possibility that it may not show the real situation taking place in a society. For this reason, I would collect empirical data in a real life but not from a sitcom or movie.
Ayeomoni, M. (2006). Code-switching and code-mixing: Style of language use in childhood in yoruba speech community. Nordic Journal of African Studies 15(1). Retrieved from http://www.njas.helsinki.fi/pdf-files/vol15num1/ayeomoni.pdf
Jaspers, J. (2010). Style and styling. In Hornberger, N. H., & McKay, S. L. Sociolinguistics and language education (pp. 177-204). Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com
Rampton, B. (1997). Language crossing and the redefinition of reality: Implications for research on codeswitching community. Urban Language & Literacies. Retrieved from http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/education/research/Research-Centres/ldc/publications/workingpapers/the-papers/5.pdf
Sandhu, P., & Higgins, C. (2016). Identity in post-colonial contexts. In S. Preece (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Language and Identity. NY: Routledge