Code Switching and Code Mixing


Different people in different communities use variations or codes in their communication while doing a formal conversation. We can observe this kind of conversation in legal and religious ceremonies, people’s interaction in their communities, in shops and in schools but at the same time we can observe that the variety of their interaction differs from one code to another code which can vary from high to low or vice versa. It can happen in either cases whether multilingual or bilingual depending upon the participant and situation (Code-Switching OR Code-mixing, n.d.).

A code could be a language or a style of language (Code Mixing and Code Switching, 2009). Now when we talk about Code-switching and code-mixing, they are well-known traits in the speech pattern of the average bilingual in any human society the world over (Ayeomoni, 2006). They occur when bilinguals substitute words or phrases (Geetha, 2010). Constituents of one language can be found with the constituents of another language in a number of linguistic phenomena, namely lexical borrowing, transferring, interference, calquing, diffusion, reflexification, code switching and code mixing, etc. The two linguistic phenomena that are claimed to be the most established and common modes of interaction among bilingual speakers are Code switching and code mixing (Redouane, 2005).

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Meaning of Code Switching and Code Mixing

Sometimes people, having different reasons, need to use more than one language within different social settings like, school, home, office and shops etc. For example if they want to greet their friend or they want to explain something more particularly etc.

they use different codes. “Code switching is dealing with different social dimension which are related to different social factors which are a participant, status and solidarity (social distance)” (Code-Switching OR Code-mixing, n.d.

). In Code Switching it is not necessary that the participant knows all the vocabularies or pronunciation of that particular language which he uses to communicate. These kinds of switches are very short and are used in different social settings for different reasons. Suppose in a company, tow workers who are speaking in Arabic and switches to French or English after they start communicating with the third person, is called Code Switching (Code-Switching OR Code-mixing, n.d.). “In different Arabic world with the different varieties as low or high in many places; the varieties of relationships as formal or friendly also expressed through different varieties or codes (switching through same language), for example the friendly relationships expressed within low codes while formal one as relation at work or teachers to students in universities and schools are expressed within high varieties. In Jordan for instance while Jordanian Arabic accent, is varied between low and high.

Anyone could use in street, in home or between friends (the low) where it could not be used with teachers or doctors or any one in high status. This is the same with different Arabian accent” (Code-Switching OR Code-mixing, n.d.). Gumperz (1982) defines code switching as “the juxtaposition within the same speech exchange of passages of speech belonging to two different grammatical systems or subsystems” (p. 59).

In case of bilinguals, the behavior of switching between different languages in discourse, oral or written is considered as code switching (Ruan, 2003). Bentahila refers to code switching as “the use of two languages within a single conversation, exchange or utterance”, (Bentahila et al. 1983:302). Most researchers have recognized two types of code switching: “Intrasentential code switching used for switches within sentences, and interasentential code switching for switches between sentences” (Redouane, 2005). Researches have been conducted on the code switching behavior of the bilingual children. Bauer & Montero, (20010; Fantini, (1985); McClure, (1977); Saunders,( 1982) have studied the behavior of such children and their findings reveal that the cognitive requirements of the task and the contextual demands like participants and topics influence the bilingual children to switch languages (Ruan, 2003). Sociolinguistic studies reveal that although code switching performs important communicative functions, most educators are unaware about its nature and functions in educational settings. Code switching has long been thought to be stigmatized in education (Crowl and MacGinitie, 1974; Lara, 1989; Ramirez & Milk; 1986).

Code switching has been identified as a deficiency of the bilinguals who are not well developed in either language that they use (Myers-Scotton:1993) Not much emphasis has been placed on the simultaneous development of the two languages in bilingual children by the educationists. The mainstream society considers the mixing of languages in the process of getting hold of it as objectionable. So, it is highly required that the code switching behavior of the bilingual children or the beginners should be examined in order to understand this phenomenon completely (Ruan, 2003). Code mixing can be related to mixing of two or more languages while doing conversation. Every bilingual experience this kind of occurrence at different stages.

This linguistic device is used by bilinguals for many reasons in their communication (Mixing and Code Switching, 2010). Suwito in Sutana (1999: 17) says that “in the phenomenon of code mixing the dependent characteristics are indicated by the relationship between the function and role of language. The role means that who uses the language and function means what will be acquired by the speaker” (Rabu, 2011, Para 1). Wardhaugh (1986: 103) mentions that “Code mixing usually occurs in bilingual or multilingual community or society and the function (meaning) of the languages cannot be clearly separated. This code mixing is used when the conversant use both languages together to the extent that they change from one language to the other in the course of a single utterance” (Rabu, 2011, Para 3). Thelander (In Chaer, 1995: 152) explains “the definition of code mixing. He says that if in the single utterance the clauses and the phrases used are hybrid clause or hybrid phrases and each clause or phrase does not support the function of clause and phrase, it is called code mixing. The special character of code mixing is that, code mixing is used in informal situation.

In the formal situation it may have no exact meaning in Indonesian language” Nababan (1984: 32) says that “in the written language code mixing is indicated by italic writing or underline form” (Rabu, 2011, Para 4). Code Switching and Code Mixing in Arab Students To explain the difference between code mixing and code switching following are some examples (Kiranmayi, 2010): “Life in cities is comfortable bass I am sick and tired of traffic. Life in cities is comfortable but I am sick and tired of traffic” In the above example only one word is mixed which is in Arabic. This is called code mixing (Kiranmayi, 2010). . “If you work hard, r?h tingah. If you work hard, you will pass” (Kiranmayi, 2010).

In above example the speaker started in English but later he switches to Arabic. This is called code switching. “In Oman most English language teachers are native speakers of Arabic, and they vary considerably in terms of their mastery of the English language.

In particular, it is important to note that these foreign language teachers perhaps should not be regarded as true bilinguals who can choose freely between different codes or languages. Instead, they are, more accurately, monolingual individuals who have varied skills and knowledge in English and whose task is to teach this language to the monolingual learners” (Kiranmayi, 2010). There was survey done in an Omani school. Following is some conversation between teacher and student: “Teacher: century Student: Ustaad, century yaani qarn!! (Teacher! Century means qarn?) Teacher: Yes, century means qarn. Teacher: pronunciation Students: yaani ntoq? (meaning ntoq?) Teacher: Yes, pronunciation means ntoq” (Kiranmayi, 2010). The above mentioned example shows that for interaction code switching is very important.

Here we will take up a few studies conducted by different researchers on people of different age groups to understand the phenomenon (Ruan, 2003). Moroccan-Arabic French Speakers in Canada Since 1980, a great number of Moroccans immigrated to Canada and especially to Quebec province. From 1980-1985, the majority of Moroccans coming to Canada were single young men and women wanting to continue their study at different French universities (Quebec, Montreal, Chicotoumi, etc.). In 1990, however, because of employment opportunities in different public sectors especially in Montreal city, a great number of Moroccans came as immigrants from Morocco who are native speakers of Arabic. Shift from Arabic to French among Moroccan speakers in Canada is a common feature of these Moroccan immigrants’ speech (Redouane, 2005). Four adult Moroccans participated in this study. These participants were fluent bilinguals speaking the two varieties of Arabic (Moroccan Arabic as their mother tongue and Standard Arabic) and French (Redouane, 2005).

Conversations of these 4 Moroccan Arabic speakers were tape-recorded in two different settings: First in a formal setting which is the Center for learning languages where these four informants work, the four informants were given the subject “immigration” as a topic of discussion and were told to talk about it in relation to their own experience. Second is an informal setting, which consists of half an hour phone conversation between each of the two informants (Redouane, 2005). Findings suggests that Code switching practices among these Moroccan Arabic speakers vary from the use of either French or Arabic single words to larger sequences of words in single utterances. Among the examples of French single or larger sequences of words in Moroccan Arabic utterances are the following. Examples from formal data are represented by (F) and from informal data by (I) (Redouane, 2005).

Single word “ (F): tlabt wahdi l’immigration” (I asked alone (for) the immigration) “ (I): ?adda ?annamshi le mall” (Tomorrow I will go to the mall) (Redouane, 2005). Larger sequences of words “(F): ji:t fi la fin du mois de decembre ka:n ljaw bared kti:r wttalj” (I came the end of the month of December, the weather was very cold and snow) (Redouane, 2005). “(I): ?adi ntsenna:k vers 2 heures a cote du kiosque de l’information” . (I will wait for you around 2 o’clock near the information booth) (Redouane, 2005). The findings of this study have demonstrated that the speech of these Arabic- French bilingual Moroccans contained varied switches between French and Arabic in both formal and informal situations. It also revealed that a considerable number of cases of switching occurred even though the surface structure of the two languages is not equivalent (Redouane, 2005). Bilingual Chinese/English Children’s Code Switching Behavior “A study conducted on the first grade classroom in a Chinese language program for bilingual Chinese/English children in a mid-western university town” (Ruan, 2003).

“Among the children in the class, Lingling, a typical Chinese bilingual child with Chinese as the home language and English as the dominant language, and she was fluent in both English and Chinese, was selected as the focal participant” (Ruan, 2003). “She came to the United States at five, and completed the kindergarten satisfactorily. The Chinese class was observed for one hour every Saturday afternoon for 14 weeks” (Ruan, 2003). “The findings of this study suggest that all bilingual children were engaged in the code switching behavior but the frequency differed. A focused analysis on Lingling’s language use brought in several patterns” (Ruan, 2003). “By and large, Lingling’s choice of language was habitually motivated by the changes in participants involved in the discourse.

Unexpectedly, English was her language of preference at this stage of her life. She talked to her classmates mostly in English” (Ruan, 2003). However, when the elders and specially the Chinese teacher joined the conversation Lingling switched to Chinese (Ruan, 2003). Example: “Lingling: I got lots of candy from Trick-or-Treat. Di: Me too.

I have a lot of candy and my mom won’t let me have all. (Teacher coming into the classroom) Lingling: Lao shi, ni yao bu yao yi ke tang? (Teacher, do you want a piece of candy?) Teacher: Xie xie. Bu yong. (Thanks. No.)” (Ruan, 2003). “Lingling understood that she came to the Chinese school to learn Chinese, and the teacher might expect her to use Chinese.

Her sense of the status of interlocutors led to her motivation to switch” (Ruan, 2003). “While referring to the subjects taught in the Chinese school, Lingling was more likely to use Chinese than English” (Ruan, 2003). She switched from English to Chinese when she talked to her friend about her WU Shu class (Chinese Martial Art ) (Ruan, 2003). “Lingling: I need to go to wu shu ke. (I need to go to Wu Shu class).

Di: Yeah, punching and kicking people.” (Ruan, 2003). To Lingling, Wu Shu was a Chinese topic, and it was unlikely and inconvenient for her to translate it into its corresponding English term (Ruan, 2003). “When she talked to her classmate Kai about the most popular toys her awareness of culture-related topics was also obvious.

At the time of the study many conversations were about Pokemons. In the following conversation her awareness of culture-specific topics is evident” (Ruan, 2003). The conversation started out in Chinese, but Pokemon characters prompted the switch to English (Ruan, 2003). “Meilun: Lingling, ni hua shen me? (Lingling, what are you drawing?) Lingling: Zhe shi Pichachoo (This is Pichachoo). I will draw Charizard the Flame Thrower too.” (Ruan, 2003). Moreover, code switching was frequently used as a metalinguistic device by the Chinese teacher and the children to expand and monitor teaching and learning (Ruan, 2003). “The new and complex concepts were often explained in both the languages by the teacher to ensure that the students had understood the concepts” (Ruan, 2003).

The children in turn followed the same behavior (Ruan, 2003). Lingling’s verbal exchange with her teacher during a lesson on garden facilitates this finding (Ruan, 2003). “Teacher: Lingling, shen me shi hua yuan? (Lingling, what is hua yuan?) Lingling: Hua yuan jiu shi you hen duo hua, shi garden. (Hua yuan has lots of flowers, is garden.)” (Ruan, 2003). “This study suggests that as with bilingual adults, code switching is employed as communicative devices by bilingual children. Young bilingual Chinese/English children applied code-switching during their speech in order to realize different functions, such as social function, pragmatic function, and meta-linguistic function” (Ruan, 2003).

The findings suggest that code switching should not be considered a sign of bilingual children’s English language learning abilities. “They should not be discriminated if they engage in code switching behaviors” (Ruan, 2003). The children can improve their literacy through using their own linguistic “funds of knowledge” (Moll, 1992) (Ruan, 2003).

There is a need for more studies on code switching. It will enable the educators to acquire a better understanding of how bilingual children use languages and learn through languages (Ruan, 2003). These kinds of studies can help teachers provide appropriate instructional support to maximize bilingual children’s learning (Ruan, 2003).

Man is capable of making many changes and once he has made them it is up to him how to manifest them or how to leave them and this applies on the use of languages also (Duran, 1994).

Works Cited

Ayeomoni, M.O. “Code-Switching and Code-Mixing: Style of Language Use in Childhood in Yoruba Speech Community.

” 2006. Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Nordic Journal of African Studies 15(1): 90–99 (2006) “Code Mixing and Code Switching”. 2009. All About English. Web.

11 May 2011 “Code-Switching OR Code-mixing”.n.d.

Web. 11 May 2011 Duran, L. “Toward a Better Understanding of Code Switching and Interlanguage in Bilinguality: Implications for Bilingual Instruction.” 1994. The Journal of Educational Issues of Language Minority Students, v14 p69-88, Winter 1994 Geetha. V. “Code Mixing and Code Switching in Tamil Proverbs Language in India.” .

2010. Volume 10 : 5 May 2010. ISSN 1930-2940 Kiranmayi,N.C. “Code Switching and Code Mixing in Arab Students – Some Implications Language in India.” 2010.

Volume 10:8 August 2010. Web. 11 May 2011 “Mixing and Code Switching”.

2010. Bilingual Age. Web. 11 May 2011 Rabu.

“Code Mixing and Code Switching.” 2011. My Courses. Web. 11 May 2011 Redouane,R. “Linguistic Constraints on Codeswitching and Codemixing of Bilingual Moroccan Arabic-French Speakers in Canada.” 2005. ISB4: Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism, ed.

James Cohen, Kara T. McAlister, Kellie Rolstad, and Jeff MacSwan, 1921-1933. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press Ruan, J. “A Study of Bilingual Chinese/English Children’s Code Switching Behavior. Spring” 2003: Volume 7, Issue 1


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