Code switching in linguistics

Code switching is a linguistic phenomenon in which speakers of two languages ​​(i.e., two codes) switch between the two languages ​​while communicating with other people who share the same codes. In other words, code switching means a verbal action in which the use of two or more codes alternates in a single conversational episode. The changes are always unconscious and spontaneous, and users do not have to have the same facility with both languages. Code switching in linguistics

Code switching , code switching , or register switching is a linguistic term denoting the simultaneous use of more than one language , or variety of a language, in conversation. Multilinguals , people who speak more than one language , sometimes use elements of multiple languages ​​when conversing with others. Thus, code switching is the syntactically and phonologically appropriate use of more than one linguistic variety .

Code switching is different from other language contact phenomena , such as loanwords , pidgins and creoles , borrowed meanings (calques) , and linguistic interference . Speakers form and establish a pidgin language when two or more speakers who do not have a language in common form an intermediary third language. On the other hand, speakers practice code switching when both are fluent in both languages. Code shuffling is a related topic, but the use of the terms code switching and code shuffling varies. Some scholars use the term to describe the same practice, while others use code-mixing to describe the formal linguistic properties of such a phenomenon of language contact, and code-switching to describe the actual usages in the speech of multilinguals. Code switching in linguistics  

In the 1940s and 1950s, many scholars said that code switching was a substandard use of the language. 3 Since the 1980s, however, many scholars have recognized that it is a normal and natural product of bilingual and multilingual use of languages. 


The term “code-switching” was born in the 1950s in the academic community, and initially appeared only in the context of the physical sciences. Currently, this term circulates in the fields of linguistics and political anthropology.

The main formal characteristics of code alternation are:

  • It affects both lexical and grammatical levels.
  • It does not usually alter the morphosyntactic structure of the languages ​​in contact.
  • It is usual to change code in the middle of a sentence when the order of the elements in both languages ​​matches; when the languages ​​in contact are typologically different, the change is more problematic, although not impossible.
  • In the middle of a word it is not common to change from one code to another.
  • The order of morphemes is almost always determined by the base language.
  • Productive morphemes are generally of the base language.
  • The transition between one code and another is usually fluid, that is, without pauses, maintaining the rhythm and intonation. Code switching in linguistics

The alternation of code, as we have said, is motivated by multiple circumstances and fulfills a wide range of functions in communication. Here are some of them:

  • indicate a change of subject or activity;
  • select a recipient from a group of listeners;
  • imitate, introduce a touch of humor;
  • create a pun;
  • cite (direct or indirect style);
  • make a marginal comment;
  • nuance or emphasize;
  • keep a secret with some (s) of the listeners;
  • practice a certain language;
  • boast a good level in the language in question
  • Sometimes the code is changed simply because there is no (or unknown) term, an expression, an equivalent saying in the base language.

Purpose of Code-Switching

Meta-messages are the that means(s) behind what somebody is saying, doing, or in any other case speaking. Meta-messages can not all the time be precisely interpreted; they’re typically projected onto people, whether or not these people agree with the meta messaging they’re being accused of or not. Code-switching affords people an opportunity to curate their meta-messaging, indicating to the folks round them whether or not that particular person needs to align or separate themselves from the group at giant. Meta-messaging additionally permits folks to curate how they understand people primarily based on whether or not they code-switch or not. In both state of affairs, the one that is an outsider and accountable for participating or selecting to not interact in code-switching is commonly at a drawback to the group of individuals or the setting through which they’re working. Code switching in linguistics

For instance, a lawyer who’s Brazilian however working in the USA may use Portuguese phrases, or converse Portuguese in full, with a brand new shopper who reveals that they’re from Portugal. This alternative sends a meta-message to the brand new shopper that provides consolation and inclusivity. Equally, if a nurse speaks with a Midwestern accent, however notices {that a} affected person speaks with a Southern accent, the nurse may combine Southern dialect into their speech as a way to put the affected person comfy.

Types of Code-Switching

There are three major forms of linguistic code-switching: tag or extra-sentential, inter-sentential, and intra-sentential. Each of these forms manifests in specific ways, depending on context and individual actions.

Intra-Sentential Code-Switching

Intra-sentential code-switching occurs mid-sentence, without interruption. A speaker engaging in this sort of code switch is able to transition between languages or dialects without pause.

Inter-Sentential Code-Switching

Inter-sentential code-switching occurs between sentences, or at grammatical stopping points, such as after commas or quotations. For example, “I cooked dinner, mais, je n’ai pas faim” or, “I cooked dinner, but I’m not hungry.” Not quite as fluid as intra-sentential, these code switches still indicate a level of confidence in language use that the speaker has. Code switching in linguistics

Extra-Sentential Code-Switching

Extra-sentential code-switching, also called tag switching, occurs when a speaker uses slang or a phrase from one language within a sentence that is otherwise spoken in another. For example, “I told the kids, “no mas” TV tonight!” Or, “I told the kids no more TV tonight!”

Examples of Code Switching

Roger Hewitt’s White Talk Black Talk (1986)

The researcher Roget Hewitt analysed speech patterns amongst white and black children in London. In one conversation between inter-racial friends, he found that both boys would often communicate using Jamaican Patois, with the white boy code-switching between standard English and Jamaican Patois. Hewitt suggests this is to show a sense of friendship. Code switching in linguistics

‘White boy: Oh, Royston, ya goin’ football on Saturday?

Black boy: Mi na go football! Who for?

White boy: Check some gyal later.

Black boy: Na. Mi na wan check gyal now.

White boy: Rassclaht! Fink ya bent’ (Hewitt, 1986).

Social motivations for code switching

Code switching relates to, and sometimes indexes , socio group membership to bilingual and multilingual communities. Some sociolinguists describe relationships between code-switching behaviors and class , ethnicity , and other social positions.  In addition, scholars in interactional linguistics and conversation analysis have studied code switching as a means of structuring speech in interaction. 6 Analyst Peter Auer suggests that code-switching does not simply reflect social situations, but that it is a means to create social situations. 

Marcadez model 

The markup model, developed by Carol Myers-Scotton , is one of the most comprehensive theories of code-switching motivations. It proposes that language users are rational , and choose (speak) a language that clearly marks their rights and obligations, relative to other speakers, in the conversation and its setting. ​ When there is no clear and unchecked language option , speakers practice code-switching to explore possible language options. Many sociolinguists, however, object to the Brand Model’s claim that language choice is entirely rational

Accommodation Theory in Communication

Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT), developed by Howard Giles, professor of communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara, seeks to explain the cognitive reasons, and other changes in speech, as a person seeks to emphasize or minimize the social differences between him or her and the other person(s) in the conversation. the prof. Giles proposes that when speakers seek approval in a social situation they are likely to converge their language with that of the other person speaking. This includes, but is not limited to, the choice of language, accent, dialect, and Paralinguistics used in the conversation. In contrast to convergence, speakers can engage in divergent discourse,

It is argued that “when people interact, they adjust their speech, their vocal patterns and their gestures, to accommodate each other”. TAC explores the various reasons why people minimize social differences between themselves and their interlocutors through verbal and non-verbal communication.

This theory deals with the links between “language, context and identity”. It focuses on the interpersonal factors that lead to establishment and the macro- and micro-context concerns that affect communication behaviors.

There are two main accommodation processes described by this theory: “Convergence” which refers to the strategies in which individuals adapt to the communicative behaviors of others in order to reduce these social differences. And “Divergence” which refers to cases in which people accentuate the verbal and non-verbal differences between themselves and their interlocutors. At times, when individuals attempt to participate in convergence they may become overly accommodating, and despite their best intentions, condescending.

Discourse accommodation theory

Discourse accommodation theory was developed in order to demonstrate the value of psychological and social concepts in understanding sentence dynamics. This theory attempts to explain the motivations for changes in people’s speech styles during social encounters and the social consequences that result from them. It focuses on the cognitive and affective processes of the convergence and divergence of individuals through speech. Communication accommodation theory has been expanded to include not only speech, but also nonverbal and discursive dimensions of social interaction. Therefore, it now encompasses other aspects of communication.

Code switching and Diglossia 

In a diglossic situation, some topics and situations are more appropriate for one language than the other. Joshua Fishman proposes a topic-specific code-switching model (later refined by Blom and Gumperz )  in which bilingual speakers choose which code to speak depending on where they are and what they are discussing. For example, a child who is bilingual in Spanish and English may speak Spanish at home and English in class, but Spanish at recess. 

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