In bilingual regions often there's a phenomenon known as code switching, when people swap codes when confronted with a person that uses a different language of their own, even when both people are bilingual. Occasionally the conversation continues with every person using their own language, without switching to the other person's one.

In Galicia, Spain, it's quite common hearing people speaking Galician with people answering in Spanish. This is not usually a problem since Galician and Spanish are languages with a high mutual intelligibility. I've heard the same happened often in the old Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, which were countries with a few languages.

I assume every person involved knows every language used, so no code-switching is "needed", per se.

Is there any studies on the conditions for this to occur?

  • Hi. I'm a bit confused as to your definition of code switiching. By my understanding, code switching is when a speaker changes from using language (variety) A to using language variety (B), but that both these varieties are intelligible to the other speaker. Your definition seems to suggest that there is a case where there is not mutual intelligibilty ("...without switching to the other person's one"). I'm no epert on this, and maybe I misunderstood, but some insight from someone more capable than myself would be great. – Danger Fourpence Feb 6 '15 at 4:50
  • Perhaps I'm not using the actual definition for this case since I'm not a linguist, but you got it right. I'm not assuming both languages are mutually intelligible or the converse, just that both speakers know both languages. – Pedro Montoto García Feb 6 '15 at 9:56
  • I think part of what's confusing in the question is the wording "confronted with a person that uses a different language of their own". That makes it sound like both speakers are monolingual and neither speaker is familiar with the language spoken by the other. But I think you mean that both speakers are bilingual and each knows how to speak and understand the same two languages, but that each chooses to speak a different one of the two languages in a particular exchange. Am I right? If so, I'd suggest tweaking the wording and perhaps including a concrete example with real languages. – musicallinguist Feb 6 '15 at 12:33
  • Yep, that's exactly what I tried to say. Edited the question. – Pedro Montoto García Feb 6 '15 at 12:44

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