Code Mixing

10 October 2016

In Fall 2004, the chat room conversations of 12 non-native speakers of English from Spanish and Indonesian backgrounds were collected during a two month period and analyzed to identify: 1) frequency of code switching and code mixing for both cultures; 2) topics that triggered code switching and code mixing in each culture; and 3) topics common to both cultures and topics less likely to occur within both cultures. The findings suggest that technology-related terms, along with introductory terms, triggered more instances of code switching and code mixing regardless of the linguistic background of the participants.

Conclusions and suggestions for further research are provided. Introduction Developing communicative competence in two or more languages gives individuals opportunities to express their feelings and thoughts and shape their identity. It also helps them satisfy their individual and social needs in the different contexts of the languages used. The phenomena of code switching and code mixing of languages have long intrigued scholars who have examined what triggers such occurrences (Muysken, 2000; Wei, 2005).

However, most research has been in face-to-face communication and in bilingual communities (See Chan, 2004; Muysken, 2000; Myer-Scotton, 1992; Wei, 1998) with few studies in the context of computer mediated communication (Danet & Herring, 2003; Durham, 2003; Goldbarg, 2009; Ho, 2006; Huang, 2004; ). Such studies suggest that research needs Forum 67 The jalt call Journal 2009: Forums to examine the different facets of code switching and code mixing in CMC contexts, while keeping in mind cultural differences.

This case study examines the occurrences of code mixing and code switching produced during interactions in a chat room environment by advanced users of English from Spanish and Indonesian backgrounds. The paper starts by defining key terms and reviewing literature that covers the study. Then, it provides a rich description of the participants, data collection, and data analysis. Next, the paper presents the results in two sections. The first section identifies the key topics that trigger code switching and code mixing more frequently.

The second section compares the topics based on the cultural traits and classifies code mixing occurrences under the headings of alternation, insertion, and congruent lexicalization. The paper concludes with a discussion of the findings and suggestions for further research. Situating the study Examining topics that trigger code switching and code mixing in Internet chatting requires an understanding of the main concepts that frame this study. In the first part of the literature review, we discuss the definitions of code switching and code mixing and use examples from our data set to illustrate each.

Following a brief description of CMC, we also discuss how the traditional distinction between spoken and written language is blurred in computer mediated communication. In the second part, we examine studies that investigate code switching in computer mediated environments. Code alternation The distinction between code switching and code mixing is one of the most puzzling debates in the study of code alternation. Clyne (1991) argues that code switching and code mixing refer to the same phenomena in β€œwhich the speaker stops using language β€˜A’ and employs language β€˜B’ ” (p. 61). Romaine (1995) views code switching as a phenomenon that occurs in a continuum where both inter-sentential and intra-sentential code alternation takes place. Other researchers make the distinction between code switching and code mixing based on the place where the alternation occurs. Wei (1998) notes that if code alternation occurs at or above clause level, it is considered code switching, but if it occurs below clause level then it is considered code mixing. These are the definitions that we adopt for the current study. Code switching

Code switching or inter-sentential code-alternation occurs when a bilingual speaker uses more than one language in a single utterance above the clause level to appropriately convey his/her intents. Fischer (1972) suggests that language or code choice in communities where bilingualism or multilingualism is the norm should be analyzed in the context where the speech is produced. Fischer notes that three contextual factors should be taken into account: 1) the relationship amongst speakers; 2) the setting where the talk takes place and; 3) the topic being discussed.

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