Sunday, October 24, 2010


 Record and transcribe [using IPA symbols] a passage containing code-switching of about 20-30 sentences. Analysis the different types of code-switching/code-mixing that are found in the recording, suggesting and examining reasons that could trigger these occurrences. Your recording should be authentic to the Sri Lankan context

    Code-switching and code-mixing are well-known traits in the speech pattern of the average bilingual in any human society the world over. This occurs when bilinguals use their ability to use more than one language during the conversation. According to Gumperz code-switching is “the juxtaposition within the same speech exchange of passages of speech belonging to two different grammatical systems or subsystems.” [Romain, 1994] the same idea is defined by some other researchers under subtle differences as follows. Di Ptetre (1977) defines it as “the use of more than one language by communicants in the execution of a speech act.” Valdes Fallis (1976) refers to it simply as “the alteration of two languages,” and Scotton an Ury (1977) propose that “code-switching [is] the use of two or more linguistic varieties in the same conversation or interaction.” [Grosjean, 145] Furthermore Hudson defines the purpose of code-mixing as follows, “…to symbolize a somewhat ambiguous situation for which neither language on its own would be quite right. To get the right effect the speakers balance the two languages against each other as a kind of linguistic cocktail. [Hudson, 53] However with the combination of two languages together speakers create a separate language and a distinct style of using language. Moreover this has become a common phenomenon in bilingual society. Language experts across the globe have investigated in their experiments causes, functions, characteristics and effects of code-switching and code-mixing.

People have positive as well as negative attitudes towards code-switching and code-mixing. Code-switching and mixing has given critical names like Franglais, the mixture of English and French, Singlish, the mixture of English and Sinhala, Tex-Mex, the mixture of English and Spanish etc. As it affects to the attrition of the mother tongue of a country some people try to avoid from this. Because they think that it wipes out the identity of the mother tongue. Furthermore they consider it as an impure use of language and with that the language becomes complicated. But at the same time some people look at it in a positive way. They consider it as a relaxing way of using language because they can express their ideas more precisely with code-switching and mixing. Grosjean considers code-switching not only as a filling of momentary linguistic need but also as a very useful communication resource. [Grosjean, 148]
There can be seen numerous reasons for code-switching and mixing. Bilinguals most of the time think that they lack facility in one language when they are talking about a particular subject. Therefore to find the most suitable word for the subject that they are talking they switch codes. For example if we take a look at into the Sri Lankan context, Sinhala speaking community, most of them are bilinguals as they learn English as their second language. So for example when they talk on a subject matter like English literature it is difficult to find some appropriate words from Sinhala language and then they shift to English language. Li Wei also talk about the same situation “…bilingual speakers code-switch because they cannot express themselves adequately in one language.”[Wei, 15] Gumperz (1970) too defines this situation and according to him “code-switching is a communicative resource that builds on the anticipants’ perception of two contrasting languages.” [Grosjean, 152] In addition to that people shift codes to give a language familiarity and to enhance the meaning. For example while using English language people use tags like [among Sinhala speakers] “ne:də,” “ane:” etc. it is because though they can find similar linguistic features in English language the use of Sinhala words like that can enhance the meaning. And also as Li Wei pointed out “some bilinguals regularly change their speech productions from one language to another in their professional life. Interpreters and translators, for example, switch between languages as a routine part of their jobs” [Wei,15]   Except to the above mentioned reasons code- switching and mixing can be taken as a stylistic way of using language especially among youth.
Sociolinguists have observed different types and degrees of code-switching and code-mixing according to the way of using it under different circumstances. Poplack (1980) identified three major types like tag-switching, inter-sentential and intra-sentential. “Tag-switching involves the insertion of a tag from one language into an utterance which is otherwise entirely in the other language”. Since tags are subject to minimal syntactic restrictions, they may be easily inserted at a number of points in a monolingual utterance without violating syntactic rules. [Romain, 122] For example Sinhala/English bilingual community use Sinhala tags like “ne:də”, “me:”, “ane:’, “aijo:”etc and English tags like “here”, “isn’t it”, “right”, “ok” etc.
Eg:  Ane: you are going tomorrow ne:də? [Sinhala tags]
       Here, mamə hetə ennŋ ok. [English tags]
Inter-sentencial switching involves a switch at a clause or sentence is in one language or another. Most of the time it occurs outside the sentence or the sentence boundary. Sometimes this includes one sentence in one language and the rest of the sentence in another language. In this type of switching there should be a fluency in both languages. [Romain, 123]  An example from Sinhala/ English discourse; You have to be there ude: pa:ndərə[early in the morning]. I don’t know dear, matə enna bæ: ne [I can’t come].
According to Poplack under intra-sentential switching different types of switching occurs within clause or sentence boundary. This sort of switching involves the greatest syntactic risk. And this may be avoided by the most fluent bilingual. [Romain, 123] An example from Sinhala/English discourse; ane: baba: e:kə matə [oh baby for me it’s] very difficult know.
                 There’s nothing oja boru kijanne. I’m going.
But this type of code-switching is very ragged and awkward.
However all the above mentioned types of code-switching can be found in one discourse. Another important factor that needs to discuss is the major two variations of code-switching. One is situational code-switching where situations decide which language is the best and the other is metaphorical code-switching where the situations are not clear or ambiguous and the speaker decides to ignore the situation. [Hudson, 52]  Here situational code-switching controls by the setting, participants, domain etc bet metaphorical code-switching as Gumperz [1982] put it ‘Rather than claiming that speakers use language in response to a fixed, predetermined set of perceptions, it seems more reasonable to assume that they build on their own and their audience’s abstract understanding of situational norms, to communicate metaphoric information about how they intend their words to be understood.’ [Romain, 161]
            Code-switching contains discourse functions. According Gumperz functions of code- switching are quotations, addressee specification, interjections, reiteration, message qualification, personalization versus objectivization. Furthermore he explains on it in detail. According to him quotations contain where ‘code switched passages are clearly identifiable either direct quotations or as reported speech.’[Gumperz,75-81] An example from Sinhala/English discourse; Shakespear kijənəva ‘whole the world is a stage’ kijəla’ 
Gumperz looks at the function of addressee specification as the ‘switch serves to direct the message to one of several possible addressees’. Most of the time this takes place when a speaker turned to someone aside from the conversation. An example from Sinhala/English discourse,
A          B: you have to come on Monday
B         A: ah I got the news from Raja.
A         C: api sandudatə ennə o:nəlu.
 And interjection he defines as‘sentence filler.’ Furthermore it marks an exclamation. For example; “aijo: deύijəne: [oh God] what you did?” Reiteration is to ‘repeat the message in other code, either literary or in somewhat modified form.’ This can be used to clarify the message and to emphasize the idea. For example; “What are you doing? ane: ennako, come will you.”   Message qualification is to ‘qualify contractions such as sentence and verb compliments or predicates following a copula.’ [Gumperz, 78-81] For example from Sinhala/English discourse, ‘She is my eldest daughter hetə anidda campus eken out ύenəύa.’  The switch from one language to the other qualifies the previous sentence.
            Borrowing is another feature that occurs when different languages mixed up. Hudson defines borrowings as follows. “Code-switching and code-mixing involved mixing languages in speech; borrowing involves mixing the systems themselves, because an item is ‘borrowed’ from one language to become part of the other language. Everyday examples abound- words for foods, plants, institutions, music and so on.” [Hudson, 55] In Sinhala language too we have borrowings, the words like bus, car, fan, note, TV etc. Though we have Sinhala words for these words we do not use them and we are more familiar with English word than Sinhala word. Nowadays with the rapid development of science and technology and with the effects of globalization we get more familiar with borrowing words.
The following is a transcription of a Sri Lankan TV programme that contains Sinhala-English code-switching and mixing.

                                                                    Ruveththi with Rozane
                                                                    Tv Derana 21st Feb 2010 [18.00am]

A [Rozane]: Hello how are you?  (01)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
B [Shamali]: I am ok and how are you Rozane?  (02)                                                                                         
A: Shamali maŋ Capello saloon ekata a:ύe mata a:raŋtѕijak a:ύa alut therapy ekak læbila tijenəύa kijəla. mokəkdə me: alut therapy ekə? [I came to Capello saloon I got to know that there is a new therapy] (03)                                                                                                                                           
B: It’s a Swedish body massage and e:kə Australia and Sweden ύələ hæmə tænəmə tijenə ekak. (04)
 hari prəsiddə ekak hæbæi e:kə dæn lanka:ύtə  æύilla Capello saloon eke: api e:ken classes patangannəύa. [it’s a famous body massage and now famous in Sri Lanka. In our saloon we have started classes on it] (05)
 and e:kedi api ugannanaύa, [there we teach] practicals as well as theory. (06)
 i:təpasse cause eka ma:sa dekai api e:gollanta certificate ekak denəύa. [then two months course and we give a certificate after that] (07)
A:hari, man hitanne api ύædi ύistərə katakərəmu therapy eka kərənə   ύela:ύemə. api ehenam Manishkage therapy ekakata jan. [We’ll talk more in detail when the therapy is going on. We’ll go for a therapy with Manishka] (08)
 and Shalini client kenek oja: langətə a:ύəmə kohomədə eja: therapy ekətə su:da:nəm kəranne. [How do you prepare a client for a therapy?] (09)
B: api client ύ arəgenə eja:ge ædum a:barənə galaύəla towel ekak andəύəla, mokədə nætinam      tuύalaύenna puluύŋ. [We remove the clothes and jewelry and dress a towel otherwise the jewelry make him injured during the therapy] (10)
A: Right palamuύenmə api mokakdə kəranne? [What we do first?](11)
B: palamuύenmə eja andəύla ædətə da:la tuύa: ύlin ύhala api ejage socks indəla tissue ekak danaύa kakula langətə. [First we dress him and put him on a bed and covered him with a towel and put a tissue from his socks] (12)
 tissue ekə da:la api spray ekak spray kəranna o:nə kakulə langətə mokadə dadijə  ehemə tijenə nisa nætinam therapisttə ama:rui. api ængili okkomə massage kərannə o:nə right. [Then we put a sray to dry his sweat otherwise it would be difficult for the client. We have to massage his fingers] (13)
i:tə passe kijənəύa client ta relax ύenna kijəla [Then we ask the client to be relaxed] mokədə me:kə [because this is] most hæmə ύele:mə [always] it’s a relaxing therapy.(14)
 i:təpasse Aroma therapy itipandam pattukərəla light music soft music ekak da:nnə o:nə. [Next we light Aroma therapy candles and play a light music] (15)
It’s our Swedish body massage.  (16)
A: e:kətamai environment ekat a:ύamə tamai taύat relax ύenne. [Yea there should be a good environment to make him relax] (17)
api monəύə pa:ύtstsikərənə oil dзati [What types of oil that we can use?] (18)
B: apitə market eke: tijenə o:nəmə oil ύargəjak gannə puluύan. Client kæməti [we can get any type of oil in the market as the client wish] (19)
A: api tel sa:ma:nəjen heat kərənəύadə? [Do we heat the oil] (20)

            According to the above transcription the first two lines of the dialogue both A and B communicates in English language. In the third line A [Rozane] switches to Sinhala where she does code-mixing. For example she uses the word saloon and therapy. Here the word therapy can be taken as a borrowing as it is difficult to find an exact word for that to give the idea of therapy. Though there are certain words those words don’t give the sense that the word therapy gives. Line number three is an example for inter-sentential code-switching. Moreover it implies that B [Shamali] is fluent in both languages. Next is a line with code-mixing. Line number six begins with a tag. It indicates that she is more familiar with English language than Sinhala because she uses the word ‘and’ which is from English language. And the line continues with an intra-sentential code-switching.
            Next line by using the words such as cause, certificate B uses code-mixing. Here the word cause can be taken as a borrowing because nowadays among Sri Lankans this word is familiar than the Sinhala word. Line number eight A switches to English language with the borrowing word therapy. Line after that starts with a tag-switching by using the word and. And the use of the word client is an example for code-mixing. In the next line too the speaker mixes codes with the words client and towel. Next line begins with the tag, right and continues with Sinhala language. Code-mixing can be seen in line number twelve with the words socks and tissue.  In line thirteen the speaker uses code-mixing as well as tag- switching. Code-mixing can be seen through the words such as spray, massage. And tag-switching can be seen with the word right. In the next line the speaker uses code-mixing with inter-sentential code-switching. Because the sentence starts in Sinhala language with code-mixing but it ends with English language. There we see a reiteration word also.  The English word ‘most’ and the Sinhala word ‘hæmə ύele:mə’ give the same meaning. In the dialogue to highlight what she says she uses these similar words from both languages. Line fifteen contains inter-sentential code switching and a borrowing, Aroma therapy. Next line can be taken as a part of the above line and it is an example for intra-sentential code-switching. Next the dialogue continues with code-mixing by using the words like environment, relax, oil etc.   
            As Spolsky states, “the selection of a language by a bilingual, especially when speaking to another bilingual, carries a wealth of social meaning. Each language becomes a virtual guise for the bilingual speaker, who can change identity as easily as changing a hat, and can use language choice as a way of negotiating social relations with an interlocutor.” [Spolsky, 50] During this process the factors like code-switching, mixing and borrowing occur. Therefore it is a natural process.  As Eastman points out ‘we must free ourselves of the need to categorize any instance of seemingly non-native material in language as a borrowing or a switch.’ [Romaine, 180]  Though it contains good aspects as well as bad aspects, according to my point of view code-switching, mixing and borrowing are common factors that bilinguals are using when they communicate with another bilingual. Nowadays with the factors like globalization people get familiar with more than one language. And as a result of that most of native languages are under the influence of foreign languages. Therefore it is difficult to get rid of a phenomenon like code-switching. 


Susan, R (1994). Bilingualism, 2nd ed, Blackwell,

Gumperz, J.J (1982). Discourse Strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Francoise Grosjean Life with two languages: An Introduction to bilingualism.
Wei, L Dimensions of Bilingualism   

Spolsky, B (1998). Sociolinguistics. Oxford University Press. New York.

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