Code-Switching as Strategically Employed in Political Discourse

  • Yova Kementchedjhieva The University of Edinburgh
Keywords: code-switching, style shifting, intraspeaker variation, sociolinguistics, Bulgarian


There is extensive scholarship in the field of sociolinguistics on mediated political discourse as strategically employed to gain support in the run-up to and during elections. Among other things, this work reveals that the rhetorical success of politicians greatly depends on their ability to get the right balance between the expression of authority and solidarity in their speech performances. The use of code-switching in achieving such balance has been touched upon in some case studies but never studied in depth. I analyse the speech of Boyko Borisov, now Prime Minister of Bulgaria (and at the time of recording, a candidate for the position), in the framework of Bell’s (1984) audience and referee design theory, with reference to Myers Scotton and Ury’s (1977) views on code-switching. Borisov is found to employ two codes, a standard and a nonstandard one, characteristic of two different personae of his: the authoritative politician and the folksy, regular person. Depending on the situation, he chooses to act out either just one of these personae or both of them by switching between the two codes, thus maintaining the aforementioned vital balance between the expression of power and solidarity. The analysis reveals that the switches occur at specific points in the conversation, in line with existing theory on metaphorical code-switching, confirming that they are strategic in nature rather than random or accidental.


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How to Cite
Kementchedjhieva, Y. “Code-Switching As Strategically Employed in Political Discourse”. Lifespans and Styles, Vol. 2, no. 1, Mar. 2016, pp. 3-9, doi:10.2218/ls.v2i1.2016.1425.