Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Code-switching among Arab-American speakers

Code-switching among Arab-American speakers

Yasmin Habib

One of the most widely discussed language tendencies among bilingual and multilingual individuals is the process of code-switching. Code-switching is defined by the simultaneous use of more than one language with the same conversation. Questions of how, when, and why individuals are motivated to code-switch have dominated the literature in recent years. While several researchers have focused on code-switching to an English variety, others have concentrated on diglossic code-switching. Diglossia is characterized by use of more than one language variety within the same linguistic family. Thus, the present study investigates how, when, and why Egyptian-American bilinguals are motivated to code-switch with the English variety and the diglossic variety of modern standard Arabic (MSA).Through assessing previous literature, conducting interviews and observing linguistic tendencies, 10 Egyptian –Americans between the ages of 20-65 with a median time of 18.2 years spent in the United States were examined on the basis of code-switching. The findings suggest that individuals are more likely engage in English code-switch during informal communication and MSA code-switch during formal communication. Additionally, no grammatical violation occurred during switch process. Reasons as to why individuals were motivated to code-switch could not be reduced to one factor; rather an amalgamation of education, economic, political and cultural hegemonies played a role in switch tendency. To extend on the phenomenon of code-switching, future research should examine the role of gender communication, education, religious ideologies, and other factors directly impacting switch tendency.

Keywords: Code-switching; Diglossia; Egyptian-American; conversational communication; grammatical rules; cultural hegemony


April 16, 2011 - Posted by | abstract

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