Review of the Research Made on Code Switching in Bilingualism

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The discussions in this section are taken from the ideas of authors of books, journals and other reference materials that deal with code- switching as a language teaching strategy anchored on the grammar- translation method. Based on the extended body of research on code- switching, it is highly agreed that code is the general umbrella term for languages, dialects, styles and registers. As Wardhaugh (2006) stresses, code is “the particular dialect or language that a person chooses to use on any occasion, a system used for communication between two or more parties” (p.84). He further argues that the term code can refer to any kind of system that speakers utilize during communication, which is different from the terms like language, dialect, style, vernacular standard language, pidgin, and creole which tend to carry emotions.

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In 2005, a search of the Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts database shows that over 1,800 articles were published on the subject of code- switching in every branch of linguistics, virtually (Nilep, 2006). One of the earliest definitions of code- switching by Hymes (1977) states that code- switching is “the alternate use of two or more languages, varieties of a language, or even speech styles” (p.103).

Another prominent definition of code- switching is expressed by Myers-Scotton (1988) who claims that code switches are linguistic choices which are “negotiations of personal Rights and Obligations (RO) relative to those of other participants in a talk exchange” (p.178). Her explanation of the rights and obligations lies in understanding the attitudes, current situation, and feelings of the listener. However, on condition that such understanding is achieved, the speaker may initiate his/ her switching of the code. In the final saying, it is important to take into account that code- switching is seen as a functionally motivated process rather than a random one (McKay & Hornberger, 2009).

Code- switching can be characterized from both a social and a grammatical perspective. One of the first sociolinguistic studies of code-switching, by Blom and Gumperz (1972), identified two basic types, namely metaphorical and situational code-switching, although this characterization was later broadened to include a third type, namely conversational code- switching. As pointed out, the term code- switching in this context is used to denote a bilingual communicative strategy consisting of the alternate use of two languages in the same conversation, even within the same utterance/sentence (Hamers and Blanc 2000:266). In this section, a distinction is made between situational and metaphorical code- switching. Following this, a description of code-switching as a conversational strategy is given. Finally, a grammatical distinction is made between intra, inter- and extra-sentential code- switching.

Situational code- switching occurs when the language used changes according to the situations in which the conversants find themselves: they speak one language in one situation and another in a different one (Wardhaugh 1998:103). Downes (1998:83) introduces the concept ‘functional specialization’ and the existence of ‘domains of language.’ This is in line with his contention that varieties have distinct uses and when a speaker chooses a particular code, they can be enacting an intention to redefine the situation in which they are participating. Nilep (2006:8) adopts Blom and Gumperz’ (1972) assertion that social events, defined in terms of participants, setting and topic, restrict the selection of linguistic variables.

On the other hand, Wardhaugh (2006:106) uses the term “metaphorical code- switching” to describe a linguistic scenario where a change of topic requires a change in the language used. Furthermore, Wardhaugh (2006:104) maintains that although certain topics may be discussed in either code, the choice of a code adds a distinct flavor to what is said about the topic. An important distinction is made between situational switching, where alternation between varieties redefines a situation, being a change in governing norms, and metaphorical switching, where alternation enriches a situation. Reiterating the same argument, Wardhaugh (2006: 104) affirms that metaphorical code- switching can be used to redefine the situation from formal to informal, official to personal, serious to human and from politeness to solidarity.

Defining conversational code- switching, linguists explore this feature in different dimensions. Auer (1984) revisits Gumperz’ approach of semantic, as opposed to merely functional analyses. Gumperz (1982) proposed that each language of a bilingual speaker has a meaning (potential), just as a lexical entry has a core meaning that can be treated independently. Hence a language may either represent a ‘we code’, associated with an ethnically specific minority, or a ‘they code’, for the majority associated with the more formal, stiff and less personal out-group relation. In view of this dimension, a speaker’s ability to juxtapose language varieties within a conversational turn in response to the semantic considerations would then be a characteristic feature of Conversational code-switching.

Skinner (1985) is one of those people who believed that abandoning the native language use may appear undesirable in the process of learning the native language. He believed that since the learners‟ thoughts and ideas are already developed in the first language, doing away with students‟ first languages may impede the learners‟ process of conceptualization which is basically based on their native language.

There are some reasons why researchers are against the use of the native language in the classroom. One reason they put on the table is that the use of the target language makes the classroom seem more real and credible. Another reason is that in a multilingual class where there may be different first languages, it seems quite impossible to take into account of all of them (Cook, 2002).

On the other hand, the use of the native language in the classroom serves different functions. Cook (2002) advocates the use of the native language in the classroom. He believes that the use of the native language in the class cannot be all interfering and detrimental, but it has some positive point. He claims that grammar can be explained through using the native language because meaning can be conveyed more clearly. The classroom can be managed more easily. The native language is the infrastructure of learning the target language.

Code-switching is a strategy to render the intended meaning. In this case, code switching is used to avoid misunderstanding (Sert, 2005)

Similarly, Wardhaugh (2006) states that the code we choose to use on a particular occasion indicates how we wish others to view us. The switch to a different code would then be influenced by the conversational goal intended. Finlayson et al. (1998) identify several aspects relating to the significance of conversational code switching in a multilingual setting, namely that a speaker can access different identities and accommodate others, meet someone else half way, establish common ground and show flexibility and openness (Wardhaugh 2006:116).

Hence, when learning a language it is important not only to learn isolated areas of a second language (L2) but to be able to use those areas simultaneously when talking, reading, writing or listening in your second language (Cook 2001:407). From a sociolinguistic perspective, the investigation of code- switching goes beyond the emergences of code- switching towards the reasons and functions lying behind its use. In line with the sociolinguistic approach, researchers delved into why people code- switch and what social aspects those switches lead to (Gardner & Chloros, 2009). For Myers-Scotton and Ury (1977), the motive for studying what purposes or roles code- switching utterances function stems from the following question: why do speakers code- switch?

However, some classroom code switching can be explained by the Communication Accommodation Theory introduced by Giles, Coupland, N., and Coupland, J. (1991). According to the Accommodation Theory, speakers vary their use of different language varieties to express solidarity with or social distance from their interlocutors. The Accommodation Theory states that speakers adapt their language use and deliberately vary their language as a tool for communicative purposes in various speech communities in order to reinforce interpersonal relationships. Consequently, students, as well as teachers, in certain situations choose to adapt their language to better suit the current interaction; in other words, directive switching serves to include or exclude specific conversational participant by using either a speaker‟s preferred or dispreferred language choice. Such switching can be convergent when speakers use the preferred of their interlocutors, or divergent which result in creating distance between the interlocutor and hearer because of dispreferred choices. On the other hand, the switch is unconscious when the student wants to communicate with another student on a personal level by shifting to the native language of the classroom. Switching codes to fit the topic is a function of code switching that is widely used in the second or foreign language learning environment to optimize learning processes.

Furthermore, learners use their native language to communicate between one another and by doing so they get an understandable response if the other learners have the same or a different perception of the received information. All of this is done so that the learners‟ can negotiate meaning in a simplified way and thus help their own learning process (Simon, 2001).

A great body of literature has been devoted to investigate why speakers tend to use a certain code; what motives cause shifts from one code to another, and why speakers in many cases prefer to use a newly developed code from two other codes by code- switching back and forth between the two. Grosjean (2010) reports on the reasons why people code- switch: it is because certain concepts or notions can simply be better expressed and understood in the other language; speakers may need also to fill a linguistic gap for an expression or a word. Truly, competence of one variety of a language be it a dialect, register, style, appears to be a highly rare phenomenon. Many researchers, such as Myers-Scotton (1993) and Auer and Poplack (1988), have conducted insightful research on the topic of code- switching as a strategy employed by multilingual speakers whose comprehension skills are high in both languages involved.

Speakers who intra-sententially code- switch have a high level of bilingual comprehension since they need to know quite enough of the grammar of both languages in order to be able to comprehend the given contexts (Poplack, 1980). Tien and Liu (2006) put forth that students whose comprehension was low, considered code- switching in their English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classes as helpful towards gaining better comprehension as well as giving classroom procedures. On the other hand, Ataş (2012) concluded that there was no correlation between the students’ difference level of comprehension and their use of code switching. As a matter of fact, advanced learners and competent bilinguals have been reported to employ- code switching similarly (Winford, 2003).

Kachru (2009) further argues that there is, by no means, any reason for stigmatizing a variety as far as it is exploited for effective language teaching. Stigmatization of code- switching, according to Montes-Alcalá (2001), is attributed to negative aspects such as lack of education, illiteracy, or lack of comprehension in one language or both. On the other side, Huang (2008) found a paradoxical correlation between code- switching and the degree of exposure to the target language: when exposure to the target language increased, code- switching decreased. However, he acknowledged that the advantages of utilizing code- switching in classroom outweighed the disadvantages. Hence, due to this affiliation among people who are bilingual or multilingual, the need to correlate with one another results, in many cases, in code- switching, which will be the scope of discussion in this study.

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