Code-switching is known as the switch from one code (language) to another within the same context. It is also known as a situation where a person is able to alternate between two or more languages in his or her discourse. Lipski (1978) stated that the switch involves different patterns and forms. Similiarly, in her book, Myers-Scotton (1993) said that code-switching is a conventional method of communication in any bilingual or multilingual society.
In a multilingual country like Malaysia, it is customary for us to see a fusion of one or more languages, dialects and styles in spoken and also written forms. Hence, being able to converse in more than just one language at one time or code-switch from one language to another is very predictable within the society itself.
With the advancement of the era of multimedia and technology, code-switching is no longer restricted to spoken form but code-switching can be observed in written form too. We are aware that with a more developed communication system globally, code-switching can be spotted in varying interaction such as chatrooms, forums, blogs and websites like Myspace, Friendster and Facebook as Montes-Alcalá (2007) would put it that more and more different patterns and styles of code-switching are emerging and people code-switch more often in written form of languages and this includes one of the infamous medium, blog.
So, what is a blog and where does it originate from?
As stated in the work of Werbach (2001), Blood (2000) stated that John Barger was the first person who came about with the term "weblog" in his website on 17th December 1997 where the term was used to refer to a website where an individual updates regularly.
These days, "blog" is used to describe a personal website that offers "frequent updated observations, news, recommended links" and others. With the trend of owning a blog going hype over the country in recent years, we can somehow notice in each blog, code-switching in different domains takes place. These switches in term of patterns and styles differ from people of each age group.
For years, sociolinguists have argued that domain plays an integral part in deciding what code should be used in certain situations to make the language meaningful. For example, when person A in his or her twenties' communicates to his or her family members, code A will be used whilst when it comes to person B who is in his or her fifties, another code will be used depending on the appropriateness.
Sometimes, it crosses our mind to use only English as our main code but under certain circumstances or when we are in different domains, we tend to code-switch without realizing. There are also times when we realize that only the use of certain code in a particular domain can make language meaningful. This situation happens not only in spoken form of a language but also in blogs (written form) as well.
Over the years in our country, we often face the dilemma of choosing the 'appropriate' code to make a language meaningful in different domains. The code or language selection is dependent on the communicator's age group as well.
So, what exactly are the domains that prompt us to code-switch from English to Malay or Mandarin or vice-versa in the blogs? What are the differences between the code-switching patterns and styles used by fellow Malaysians from different age groups?
At the same time, we have to bear in mind that blogs serve to get our messages across in written form. So, when code-switching takes place within one entry of the blog in accordance to different domains and age groups, does it affect how messages are perceived in blogs?
Significance of Study
Montes-Alcalá (2007) noted in the past, there have been a lot of researches done on code-switching in spoken form but only a minority of researchers focus their findings in written form. Hence, she did a study on code-switching in the blogs of English-Spanish bilinguals to find out the frequency of code-switching within their blog entries.
Over the past years, similarly, in our country, a number of studies of code-switching have been done on spoken discourses but with the mushrooming of owning a blog over the country, so far, not a lot of researches have been carried out to study code-switching in blogs in Malaysia.
Hence, this study is significant because it provides a new breadth for code-switching in written discourse by incorporating the use of CS in blogs. The reason is because different modes of communication on the internet such as chat, blogs and twitter are speedily overtaking traditional forms of communication for both professional and leisure activities (Hassan & Hashim, 2009). Thus, studies on CS in written form should also be taken into account.
This study aims to investigate the reason why a person code-switch from one chosen standardized language, English, to another in his or her blog, taking into account bloggers of different age groups. At the same time, it also serves to determine in which domains do these bloggers tends to code-switch the most as well as their styles and patterns of code-switch.
Simultaneously, it also focuses on the factors that initiate and influence code-switching in their blogs as well as the reasons why they chose a specific language to code-switch to from English, for example, from English to Mandarin or from English to Malay.
Scopes of Study
This study focuses on code-switching which involves more than two languages in the most sought-after online journal, blog. It focuses on bloggers from two age groups and how the bloggers from this age group blog - codes, styles and most importantly, the domains and reasons that influence code-switching are taken note of.
Limitation of Study
The area of study for this research is restricted to those bloggers who use only English as their main medium of blogging. Only five bloggers of two different age groups will be selected to participate in this research.
20 to 30 years old - Group 1
50 to 60 years old - Group 2
Furthermore, only bloggers from an English education background will participate in this research. However, the numbers of bloggers selected to participate in this research do not represent the whole.
This study is guided by the previous work from various researchers such as Anacta (1996), Montes-Alcalá (2005 & 2007) and Noriza and Azirah (2009) in their studies of the code-switching in written discourses.
What are the domains and reasons that influence the bloggers of different age groups to code-switch?
What are the differences in the patterns and styles of code-switching between bloggers of these two different age groups?
Blom and Gumperz (1972) are considered the pioneer researchers in code-switching. They view code-switching optimistically and were the first to adopt a positive view of code-switching. In their study on language use through observation and analysis of tape recordings in a Norwegian fishing discussed and the language situation the speakers found themselves in.
On the other hand, Valdés-Fallis (1976), Poplack (1981), McClure (1981) and Gumperz (1982) came up with the classifications of code-switching functions - direct quotations, emphasis, clarification or elaboration, contextual switches, lexical need switches, triggered switches and others.
Similarly, Anacta (1996) researched on how code-switching is used as a strategy in written discourse but her research is about Filipino bilinguals to cover specific functions. Anacta remarks that code-switching constitutes a playful device to lighten an otherwise serious topic as well as a connotation for (bi cultural background shared by both the writer and the addressee. Finally, the researcher concludes that code-switching in written discourse marks a strategy suggesting the competence of the letter writer in the use of two languages.
Anacta's work is followed by Montes-Alcalá's (2000) research only to find out that that most of those functions typically manifested in the literature of oral code-switching were also present in the written form. Hence, it explains why she did a study on code-switching alternating between English and Spanish in blogs.
The chosen research design is qualitative design. The reason is that qualitative research is able to provide factual data are needed to support the theory that language changes through time. On the other hand, via qualitative research, we are able to find out more reasons why the bloggers code-switch from one language to another and also to explain why in certain domains, bloggers tend to code-switch more than the others.
Data will be obtained through analysis of blogs to determine the domains of code-switching in blogs. In addition to that, a set of questionnaire will be distributed to the selected bloggers. The reason is to get to know the reasons why they want to code-switch and also if there is any cause that influences them to code-switch from English to another language, be it Mandarin, Malay or others.
For this study, a total number of twenty Malaysian bloggers from the age range of 25 to 35 are selected to participate in it. These bloggers have to be bi- or multilingual in order to be selected. Only entries with actual code-switching for example, alternation of different languages within the same entry are considered. The use of solely Malay or Mandarin for the whole entry in the blog, without incorporation of other languages, then it is not considered as code-switching.
To ensure the quality of the data, the subjects chosen for this study is selected must be using English as their main medium to blog. The reason is set a standard and also to homogenize the findings so that the data collected can be more precise. The age factor also serves to homogenize the findings.
The duration for data collection of this study runs from August 2009 to February 2010. So, in the period of six months, all the entries posted by the twenty bloggers will be stored and analyzed, highlighting the influences of domains when code-switching takes place.
At the same time, questionnaires with consent forms are distributed to these bloggers in the hope of finding the reasons why they code-switch from English to another language.
The data in this study is analysed by using the work of Montes-Alcalá (2000) as a guideline. The domains of which code-switching takes place are noted from the entries of blogs collected. Then, it will be tabulated accordingly before analysis of findings.
Furthermore, when the questionnaires are returned, they will be analyzed for the reasons why these bloggers choose change from one code to another and also, under what circumstances or domains do they code-switch?
Later, these domains will be categorized and explanation for code-switching in each domain will be included.