Code-switching and Code-mixing

Seminar Paper, 2006

21 Pages, Grade: 2.3


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Definitional Issues
2.1 Definition of Code
2.2 Different between Code-switching and Code-mixing
2.3 Types of Code- switching and Code- mixing

3. The Reason, People and Circumstances in Code change

4. Sociolinguistic Dimensions of Code- switching (mixing)
4.1 People’s choice of Code- switching and Code- mixing
4.2 Factors influencing in Code- switching and Code- mixing

5. Language Changes in code- switching (mixing)
5.1 Grammar change in code- switching (mixing)
5.2 Lexical change in code- switching (mixing)
5.3 Phonological changes in code- switching (mixing)

6. The linguistic constraints on code- switching (mixing)

7. Conclusion


1. Introduction

The aim of this paper is to provide a complete overview over the phenomenon of code-switching and code-mixing. The history of the research of code change has undergone various periods that have shown how complex the phenomenon of code-switching and code-mixing are.

In the course of research of code change it has become clear that code-switching and code-mixing can be investigated from different perspectives. Researchers focused on code change after they had realized that linguistic forms and practices are interrelated. And code-switching/-mixing, in their turn, embodies not only variation, but the link between linguistic form and language use as social practice. Research from a linguistic and psycholinguistic perspective has focused on understanding the nature of the systematic of code change, as a way of revealing linguistic and potentially cognitive processes. Research on the psychological and social dimensions of code-switching/-mixing has largely been devoted to answering the questions of why speakers code change and what the social meaning of code change is for them. The sociological perspective later goes on to attempt to use the answer to those questions to illuminate how language operates as a social process.

Throughout the history of research on code-switching/-mixing it has been proposed that it is necessary to link all these forms of analysis and that, indeed, it is that possibility that is one of the most compelling reasons for studying code-switching/-mixing, since such a link would permit the development and verification of hypotheses regarding the relationship among linguistic, cognitive and social processes in a more general way (Heller, Pfaff 1996).

2. Definitional Issues

As with any aspect of language contact phenomena, research on code- switching and code- mixing are firstly plagued by the issue of terminological confusion.

2.1 Definition of Code

----In communications, a code is a rule for converting a piece of information (for example, a letter, word, or phrase) into another form or representation, not necessarily of the same sort. In communications and information processing, encoding is the process by which a source (object) performs this conversion of information into data, which is then sent to a receiver (observer), such as a data processing system (

In semiotics, the concept of a code is of fundamental importance. Saussure emphasized that signs only acquire meaning and value when they are interpreted in relation to each other. He believed that the relationship between the signifier and the signified was arbitrary. Hence, interpreting signs requires familiarity with the sets of conventions or codes currently in use to communicate meaning…...
( (Semiotics))

In the context of cryptography, a code is a method used to transform a message into an obscured form, preventing those not in on the secret from understanding what is actually transmitted. The usual method is to use a codebook with a list of common phrases or words matched with a codeword. Messages in code are sometimes termed codetext. ( (cryptography))

In computer programming, the word code refers to instructions to a computer in a programming language. In this usage, the noun "code" typically stands for source code, and the verb "to code" means to write source code, to program. This usage may have originated when the first symbolic languages were developed and were punched onto cards as "codes”.

( (computer- programming))

The term code is a relatively neutral conceptualization of a linguistic variety—be it a language or a dialect. Romaine (1995) mentions that: “I will use the term ‘code’ here in a general sense to refer not only to different language, but also to varieties of the same language as well as styles within a language.” However, not many researchers really explicate the term in their definition. In this study, code will be taking as a verbal component that can be as small as a morpheme or as comprehensive and complex as the entire system of language.

2.2 Different between Code-switching and Code-mixing

Several scholars have attempted to define code-switching and code-mixing. Among them are Amuda (1989), Atoye (1994) and Belly (1976). For instance, Hymes defines only code-switching as “a common term for alternative use of two or more language, varieties of a language or even speech styles. “while Bokamba (1989) defines both concepts thus: “Code-switching is the mixing of words, phrases and sentences from two distinct grammatical (sub)systems across sentence boundaries within the same speech event… code-mixing is the embedding of various linguistic units such as affixes (bound morphemes), words (unbound morphemes), phrases and clauses from a cooperative activity where the participants, in order to in infer what is intended, must reconcile what they hear with what they understand. “

Code switching is not a display of deficient language knowledge: a grammarless mixing of two languages. Instead it is a phenomenon through which its users express a range of meanings. By code switching, which occurs mostly in conversation, the choice of speech alerts the participants to the interaction of the context and social dimension within which the conversation is taking place. The phenomenon of code switching is examined from a conversational analysis perspective, and as such is viewed as interactive exchanges between members of a bilingual speech community.

Very often the expression code mixing is used synonymously with code switching and means basically intra-sentential code switching. However, recent research has given new meaning to this term. Maschler (1998) defines code mixing or a mixed code as “using two languages such that a third, new code emerges, in which elements from the two languages are incorporated into a structurally definable pattern” (p.125) In other words, the code mixing hypothesis states that when two code switched languages constitute the appearance of a third code it has structural characteristics special to that new code.

2.3 Types of Code- switching and Code- mixing

There are many kinds of code-switching. Code-switching can be either intersentential, intrasentential or Tag- switching.

In intersentential code-switching, the language switch is done at sentence boundaries. This is seen most often between fluent bilingual speakers. Sometimes I will start a sentence in English y terminό in español. (Poplack 1980)

In intrasentential code-switching, the shift is done in the middle of a sentence, with no interruptions, hesitations, or pauses indicating a shift. It often happens within one sentence or even a one phrase. The speaker is usually unaware of the switch, until after the fact, and for example, you have to find a kalo pedi (good guy) and marry him. (English-Greek)

The first type of language switching is known as mechanical switching. It occurs unconsciously, and fills in unknown or unavailable terms in one language. This type of code-switching is also known as code-mixing. Code-mixing occurs when a speaker is momentarily unable to remember a term, but is able to recall it in a different language.

Another type of code switching, known as code-changing, is characterized by fluent intrasentential shifts, transferring focus from one language to another. It is motivated by situational and stylistic factors, and the conscious nature of the switch between two languages is emphasized (Lipski, 1985, p. 12).

The third type of code- switching is Tag- switching. This involves the insertion of a tag in one language into an utterance that is otherwise entirely in the other language. We can see example, so he asked me for money, znas #, I had to say no, znas #. The tag here is Serbian for ‘you know’.

Code-mixing is one of the major kinds of language choice which is subtler than ‘code- switching’, as stated by Fasold (1984). In code- mixed sentences, pieces of the one language are used while a speaker is basically using another language. In Muysken

(2000) that there are three distinct types in code- mixing operant in different bilingual speech communities:

Insertion: the insertion of well defined chunks of language B into a sentence that otherwise belongs to language A

Chay-pi-qa nuqayku-qa catch-as-can bati-yku-yku

That LO TO 1pl-TO beat-INT-1pl

sonso ind-itu-s-wan-qa.

Stupid Indian-DIM-PL-with-TO

`There we played catch-as-can with the stupid little Indians.'

(Quechua / Spanish: Transcripciones Quechuas I: 3)


Excerpt out of 21 pages


Code-switching and Code-mixing
University of Stuttgart  (Institut für Linguistik)
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The aim of this paper is to provide a complete overview over the phenomenon of code-switching and code-mixing.
Code-switching, Code-mixing
Quote paper
Ping Liu (Author), 2006, Code-switching and Code-mixing, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • guest on 5/15/2015

    Thanks a lot for sharing it with us. :)

  • guest on 1/4/2013

    thanks for information

  • guest on 9/27/2011

    thank you Grin for the information...*_^

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