Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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There is a need for a label which will adequately describe the communicative competence acquired by speakers who learn to mix their codes in speech communities like those of Trinidad and Tobago. They mix according to community-based parameters for use of the codes in contact and according to their relative exposure to different admixtures of those codes. In a situation of leaking diglossia, the stylistic and social dimensions of code-mixing are blurred by shifts in the values set by these parameters, but code-mixing continues to be stylistically motivated, and varilingualism is posited as a useful term for the competence underlying it. It is in some ways comparable with the competence of bilinguals and multilinguals who mix their codes regularly in interaction with each other, but there are some differences in the relationship between the contact codes and the socio-linguistic milieux in which they are used, which affect, in particular, the structural constraints on language use. It lies, in effect, between mono-lingualism and bi/multilingualism. Varilingualism is shown to cover three main types of competence and to apply prototypically to situations in which the contact codes share a major part of their lexicons and converge in grammar.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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