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Code Alternation


As in most new fields of research, labels can be disconcerting and confusing, because they change as new theories see the light, even when such theories are neither new nor bearers of significant modifications. So it is with code alternation, variations of which can be found in code switching, code mixing, code-shifting, code-choice, code-swaying, situational switching, and language switching--all subjects to refinements such as intersentential, intrasentential, diatopic, and diastratal code-switching. "According to estimations, about half of the earth's population speaks at least two languages... The alternating use of more than one language is one of the most striking features of many interactions in bilingual communities" (Auer, 1984:1). Most code-switching research has thus been confined to bilingualism. Yet, language education--ESL/EFL in particular--has lately been interested in applying language alternation techniques to the teaching of second or foreign languages. This very short paper attempts to define currently used terms and at briefly mentioning some contributions from several cultures, as well as applications and problems in this field.

Code-mixing or code-switching are "terms in sociolinguistics for language and especially speech that draws to different extents on at least two languages combined in different ways, as when a Malay/English bilingual says: This morning I hantar my baby tu dekat babysitter tu lah (hantar took, tu dekat to the, lah a particle marking solidarity). A code may be a language or a variety or style of a language; the term code-mixing emphasizes hybridization, and the term code-switching emphasizes movement from one language to another" (McArthur, 1992:228).

Sgall et al. (1992:18-19) refine the term code-switching as follows: "One should take into account the basic distinction between 'diatopic' and 'diastratal' variation ... As for the ...

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Code Alternation. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:48, December 06, 2021, from