Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 11 : 5 May 2011
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.
         G. Baskaran, Ph.D.
         L. Ramamoorthy, Ph.D.





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Arabic-English Code-Switching among Arab Students at UUM, Malaysia

Loae Fakhri Ahmad Jdetawy, Ph.D. Candidate


The main purpose of this study is to elaborate some aspects regarding the use of code-switching. The objectives of this study were to investigate, a) whether Arab students at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) code-switch to English in their daily conversations or not, b) why Arab students at UUM code switch to English, c) the relationship between familiarity with interlocutors and code-switching, and d) the type/s of code-switching used by Arab students at UUM.

This study was conducted on the 29th of September, 2007. It investigated 155 Arab students of different ages and nationalities who are enrolled at 3 levels of education, i.e., Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. at UUM.

The instrument used in this study was a questionnaire. The findings have shown that the majority of Arab students at UUM do code-switch to English in their daily conversations and that there is no relationship between familiarity with interlocutors and code-switching.

Another finding shows that tag switching is the most frequent type used by Arab students at UUM. Finally, the results show that the highest percent regarding the reasons Arab students at UUM code-switch to English was recorded for the lack of equivalents of many English words in Arabic.


When speakers of different speech varieties interact, it will result in languages in contact. According to Hammers and Blanc (2000), languages in contact describe a situation where two or more codes are used in interactions between persons. Further, when two languages are in contact, it will lead to the notion of bilingualism which refers to:

the state of a linguistic community in which two languages are in contact with the result that two codes can be used in the same interaction and that a number of individuals are bilinguals (social bilingualism); but it also includes the concepts of bilinguality (or individual bilingualism). Bilinguality is the psychological state of an individual who has access to more than one linguistic code as a means of social communication; the degree of access will vary along a number of dimensions which are psychological, cognitive, psycholinguistic, social psychological, social, sociological, sociolinguistic, sociocultural and linguistic (Hammers, 1981 cited in Hammers and Blanc, 2000: 6).

The interest in language contact phenomena such as bilingualism and code-switching has increased during the last decades. The term 'language contact phenomena' was established to denote different types of language contact phenomena such as code-switching, code-mixing, and borrowings. The term also covers phenomena that are not counted as code-switching, for example, loans and interference (Jonsson, 2005).

The study of language contact focuses more on various types of language contact situations and various forms of bilingualism. However, the main issue in bilingualism research is code-switching, the alternative use of two or more languages in the same conversation by bilingual speakers (Lesley and Muysken, 1995).

Code-switching can be seen as a natural product of the bilinguals' interaction in two or more languages in multilingual and multicultural communities. Haugen (1956 cited in Romaine, 1995: 52) distinguishes between: "switching, the alternate use of two languages; interference, the overlapping of two languages, or application of two systems to the same item; and integration, the use of words or phrases from one language that have become so much a part of the other that it cannot be called either switching or overlapping."

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Loae Fakhri Ahmad Jdetawy, Ph.D. Candidate
School of Language Studies and Linguistics
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

Also at
University Utara Malaysia (UUM). Faculty of Communication and Modern Languages (FKBM) Sintok, Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia.

Also at

College of Arts and Sciences - Department of General Studies/ English Center / Applied Science University (ASU) Kingdom of Bahrain

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