Keep Calm and Change the Code: A Codeswitching Study on Facebook

ABSTRACT This article aims to analyze the incidence of the code-switching phenomenon in the interaction between bi-multilingual speakers in the social network Facebook. When considering the dynamism and multimodal character of communication, we understand that it is essential that the education of language teachers include discussions on the many linguistic scenarios arising from social and human diversity. Among these scenarios is the Cyberspace, where technology, language and culture are in a dialogical relationship different from the one that happens in the physical space. In Facebook, for example, we observed this relationship in code-switching practices, possible between bi / multi-lingual speakers that are able to change the code depending on the interlocutor, on what they want to say and on what they are feeling. The possibility of tracking Computer-Mediated Communication allowed us to observe how bi/multilingual speakers appropriate the virtual environment to interact with friends from different languages and cultures and to experience those languages and cultures in exposing their identities through code-switching. The data collected during four months comprised asynchronous posts and interactions between these speakers with both bi/multilingual and monolingual friends. The results point to the advantages of linguistic flexibility of bi/multilingual speakers, in the traffic among cultures in a virtual context of interaction and the attention they have in this context and the diversity of interlocutors. The mastery of more than one language and the knowledge of the social network where the interactions took place gave greater freedom and autonomy for speakers to alternate languages and thus express themselves according to their needs without strictly following predetermined rules of one or the other language, that is, speakers felt free to expose themselves through language, expose the cultures that inhabit them, following the characteristics of the virtual environment that unties the social presence of the physical one.