Vol. 5, No. 3 Pages 67–78 ©2009 jalt Call SIg
Code switching and code mixing in Internet chatting: between ‘yes’, ‘ya’, and ‘si’ a case study Mónica Stella Cárdenas-Claros
The University of Melbourne
Satya Wacana Christian University, Salatiga, Indonesia
This case study examined the occurrences of code switching and code mixing in a chatroom based environment. 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.
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
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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.
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 “which the speaker stops using language ‘A’ and employs language ‘B’ ” (p. 161). Romaine (1995) views code switching as a phenomenon that occurs in a continuum where both inter-sentential and intra-sentential code alternation takes place....