Have you ever tried to communicate with people in English and ended up switching to your mother tongue language because you could not find the correct words in English? If you do, then you are not alone in this.
The use of language is crucial in all social groups, whether cultural, racial, or gender-related, because it preserves the identity and distinguishes one social group from another. However, in these days, there are various pronunciations exist throughout the world in certain languages and most people now are in pursuit to become proficient bilinguals and multilinguals due to the factors of studies requirements and career demands.
As a result of this happening, people have begun to code switch frequently whenever bilinguals or multilinguals communicate with monolinguals. In this article, we are going to understand deeper on the pros and cons of code-switching, so let’s start with the definition of it first.
What is Code-Switching?
Code switching, according to Aljoundi (2013), can be defined as changing or shifting from one language to another in the same sentence. Generally, code-switching often occurs more in verbal communication than in writing. There are also other alternate names used to describe code-switching such as style-shifting and code-mixing. Bilinguals and multilinguals (speakers of more than one language) sometimes use parts of different languages when communicating with one another. Therefore, code-switching can be understood as the use of more than one linguistic variety in a manner consistent with the syntax (the arrangement of words and phrases in sentence) and phonology (sounds pattern in a language) of each variety.
Why is Code-Switching a common thing?
Applying code-switching in daily communication give people the freedom to express themselves in the way they see comfortable to speak. To illustrate, an immigrant who lives in an English-dominant culture might use English to speak to strangers, but he or she will shift to a mixture of English and his or her native language around family, friends and other members of their speech community.
Advantages of Code-Switching
Here are some of the advantages of code-switching:
Disadvantages of Code-Switching
Here are some of the disadvantages of code-switching:
Do We Need Code-Switching?
Code-switching has become an integrated new way of intercultural communication in every domain, from education to corporate world. Although there are some disadvantages, such as the loss of native language or the possibility of creating distance between multicultural people, it is undeniable that code-switching can be a powerful psychological tool when used properly. All in all, it is not a matter of what language are we going to use universally, but what matter the most is our capability to understand each other through words. Every language, whether French, Japanese, or English, is a message, and the most important part is that it is delivered and understood.
*Cover photo credit: MyEnglishTeacher.eu
Adlan Asyraff | Degree in English for Intercultural Communication, University of Teknologi MARA