WP91 Enregisterment, agency & language shift: Kazakh as baby talk



The paper examines how babies in urban Kazakh families are socialized into being Russian-speaking through an analysis of code-switching in baby-directed talk. Drawing on work on registers and footing, I show that Kazakh is systematically enregistered as ?baby talk?? a specific register directed to infants and toddlers in their preverbal stage. I suggest that through this metapragmatic typification of linking Kazakh to talking with and like babies adults re-produce powerful social stereotypes associating Russian with more autonomous agency and thus status, power, authority and knowledge. I further argue that such language practice contributes to maintenance of Russian among urban Kazakhs despite official and grass-root level revitalization efforts in independent Kazakhstan.