Code switching is a conventional method of communication in any bilingual or multilingual community Myers Scotton 1993 p 39 Residing in a multiracial country like Malaysia where more than one language is practiced within the community has become a natural and common phenomenon It is not surprising to find a Malaysian with different ethnic background capable of communicating in at least two languages besides being proficient in other dialects as well The two languages referred in this context are Bahasa Malaysia and Engish Bahasa Malaysia over the years has established itself as the national language and is now being used as the medium of instruction up till tertiary education The term code refers to a language or a variety of a language Wardhaugh 1992 Humaira 2012 refers code switching as the widespread phenomena in bilingual communities where speakers use their native language L1 and their second language L2 in different domains
Code switching acts as a common characteristic of bilingual and multilingual language use and has been the focus of many sociolinguistic studies Selamat 2014 Research on code switching has been widespread over the past forty years Velasquez 2010 Code switching is employed by bilinguals in conversation and leads to a redefinition of personal identity for both type or participants Gumperz 1982 classified two types of code switching in his study conversational code switching and situational code switching Conversational code switching refers to the collocation among similar speech pattern of language related to two unalike grammatical systems In a nutshell code switching is not merely characteristic of bilingualism but specifically of face to face bilingual conversation Meanwhile situational code switching is the tendency in a speech community to use different languages in different social situations or to switch a language to make a change in situation Gumperz 1982
Situational code switching could exist at public occasions work or even school where the condition stresses on language formality On the other hand speakers of more than one language such as bilinguals or multilingual are recognized for their ability to code switch or mix their languages during conversation Shariff 2004 The study of code switching has been widely examined from a sociolinguistic perspective Poplack 1980 Studies have set out that bilingual speakers may use code switching depending on their linguistic background their role in a conversation their age or race Cheng and Butler 1989 or their desire to assert solidarity or power Wardhaugh 2006 A switch can be spontaneous natural and unintentional and work in the same way as fillers hesitations pauses repetition of words and speech marks as er uhm ahm that students resort to to keep a turn and avoid breakdowns in communication Unintentional slips in the mother tongue that are unconscious and natural function as discourse markers in the L2 as right yeah so you know Martin Jones 1995 99 describes discourse related switching as a speaker oriented resource used to accomplish different communicative acts at certain moments within the interaction and participant related switching as listener oriented because the speaker takes account of the hearer s linguistic preferences or competences For Milroy Muysken 1995 single word switches are generally concerned with an unknown word and are predominantly intra sentential as they happen inside a sentence Phrase switches and clauseswitches depend on the purpose or function of the switch but are mostly inter sentential because they take place between sentences Hancock 1997 considers off record discourse as negotiation between students as they are behaving as their normal selves as opposed to on record discourse when they are putting on an act
Off record discourse which may happen in the L1 is named metatask if it concerns the task and metalanguage if it concerns language or vocabulary Self address Hancock 1997 when a student speaks to himself and prompting or modelling which are requests and offers of unknown words may also take place in the L1 For Eldridge 1996 examples of functional switches are equivalence the use of or elicitation of an equivalent in the other language floor holding making use of stopgaps reiteration to reinforce emphasize or clarify messages group membership switches that occur as in group identity markers Similarly code switching has long been a subject of linguistic study It has been widely examined from a sociolinguistic perspective Poplack 1980 Lipski 1985 Romaine 1989 Gonzales Velásquez 1995 Zentella 1997 Studies have shown that bilingual speakers may use code switching depending on their linguistic background their role in a conversation their age or race Cheng and Butler 1989 or their desire to assert solidarity or power Wardhaugh 2006 However sociolinguistics has not yet been able to answer how code switching is processed In contrast some psycholinguists have endeavored to answer the questions surrounding 2 how code switching is processed Heredia and Altarriba 2001 Myers Scotton 1993 Dussias 2003 Desmet and Declerq 2006
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