Comparative Study Of Styles And Patterns Of Code Switching

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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. In her book, Myers-Scotton (1993) said that code-switching is a conventional method of communication in any bilingual or multilingual society. Hence, 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.

The advancement of the era of multimedia and technology means that code-switching is no longer restricted to spoken form but it can be observed in written form too. With a more developed communication system, code-switching can be observed in varying interaction such as chatrooms, forums, blogs and websites like Myspace, Friendster and Facebook. (Montes-Alcalá, 2007). Thus, 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.

Blood (2000) and Werbach (2001) 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 (Branum, 2001).

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.

Problem Statement

Sometimes, it crosses our mind to use only English as our mode of communication but under certain circumstances, we tend to code-switch unintentionally. This situation happens especially in a multilingual society. There are times when we realize that only the use of certain code in a particular domain can make language meaningful.

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. Sometimes, it confuses us whether or not a person of a particular age group blogs using same or different styles and patterns of code-switching in blogs as well as the vital parts that domains play in determining which code to choose to switch to.

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 conducted a study on code-switching in the blogs of English-Spanish bilinguals to find out the frequency of code-switching within their blog entries.

Similarly, in our country, a number of studies on code-switching have been done on spoken discourses but so far, only a minority of researches has 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 chats, blogs and twitters are speedily overtaking traditional forms of communication for both professional and leisure activities (Norizah & Azirah, 2009). Thus, studies on CS in written form should be taken into account.

Objectives

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, taking into consideration the frequency of code-switching within selected entries. Furthermore, different patterns and styles they use in different domains while blogging are highlighted.

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 over a stated period of time. Only five bloggers of two different age groups will be selected to participate in this research.

Group 1 - 20 to 30 years old

Group 2 - 50 to 60 years old

In addition, 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.

Theoretical Framework

This study is guided by the previous work from various researchers such as Montes-Alcalá (2005 & 2007) and Norizah and Azirah (2009) in their studies of the code-switching in written discourses.

Research Questions

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?

Literature Review

Blom and Gumperz are considered the pioneer researchers in code-switching as they did an early study in the year 1972 on the language used in a Norwegian fishing village through observation and analysis of tape recordings of the society. Through that, they discovered the society used and code-switched in several different languages when they were communicating to each other. As the matter of fact, it was dependent on who the speaker was addressing to as well as the domain both addresser and addressee was in.

On the other hand, Valdés-Fallis (1976), Poplack (1981), McClure (1981) and Gumperz (1982) in the article, "Blogging in two languages: Code-Switching in Bilingual Blogs," introduced the classifications of code-switching functions - direct quotations, emphasis, clarification or elaboration, contextual switches, lexical need switches, triggered switches and others in support of the reasons why people code-switch.

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.

Research Design

Qualitative method is chosen as the design as it is able to provide factual data needed to support the theory that language does transform. On the other hand, with qualitative method, a comparative study on the styles and patterns of code-switching in two different age groups in selected domains can be reasoned with the presence of sufficient data.

Data will be obtained through analysis of blogs to determine the domains of code-switching in selected entries. In addition to that, a set of questionnaire will be distributed to the selected bloggers to acquire information of their backgrounds and experiences in blogging. 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.

Subjects

For this study a total numbers of five bloggers from each age group as stated below are selected to participate in it:

Group 1 - 20 to 30 years old

Group 2 - 50to 60 years old

These bloggers have to be bi- or multilingual in order to be selected, keeping in mind that English must be their main medium of blogging. Only entries with actual code-switching for example, alternation of different languages within the same entry are considered entries without incorporation of other languages is not considered as code-switching. The reason of limiting the scope of the study is to set a standard and also to homogenize the findings so that the data collected can be more precise to particular age groups being studied.

Data Collection

The duration for data collection of this study runs from September 2009 to March 2010. Thus, in the period of six months, the entries posted by these ten bloggers will be selected randomly and analyzed, highlighting the differences in patterns and styles of code-switching in different domains.

At the same time, questionnaires with consent forms will be distributed to these bloggers in the hope of finding the reasons why they code-switch from English to other languages and also to discover the frequency of code-switching among them.

Data Analysis

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, the frequency of code-switching will be tabulated before analysis of findings.

On the other hand, the distributed questionnaires will aid in finding out under what circumstances or domains does the bloggers code-switch? Thereafter, these domains will be categorized and explanation for code-switching in each domain will be included.

Finally, a comparison of differences in styles and patterns of code-switching among these bloggers will be drawn and analyzed.

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