Repository logo

A socio-cultural approach to code-switching and code-mixing among speakers of IsiZulu in KwaZulu-Natal : a contribution to spoken language corpora.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This study provides an overview of the socio-cultural functions and motivations of English-IsiZulu code-switching among speakers at Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu (INK) in Durban. Following Myres-Scotton (1993a), code-switching is defined as the mixing of different codes by speakers in the same conversation and this switch may take place at any level of language differentiation (languages, dialects, registers). Code-switching has become a universal phenomenon among bilingual speakers in most communities in South Africa. Not until recently code-switching/mixing was seen as evidence of “internal mental confusion, the inability to separate two languages sufficiently to warrant the description of true bilingualism” (Lipski, 1982:191). However, in this study, it is argued that code-switching is not only a manifestation of mental confusion but a versatile process involving an enormous amount of expertise in both languages involved and a socially and culturally motivated phenomenon. It is also argued that spoken word corpora is an important aspect in maintaining language vitality through the study of code-switching and other related linguistic phenomenon. This study therefore seeks to explore the socio-cultural functions of code-switching through an analysis of transcriptions derived from naturally occurring voice recorded instances of IsiZulu-English code-switching. It also seeks to explain why IsiZulu speakers code-switch a lot by looking at the history of the IsiZulu language contact with English, the socio-cultural factors as well as the linguistic factors that contribute to the predominance of code-switching among IsiZulu-English bilinguals. Further, it seeks to demonstrate the significance of spoken word corpora in the study and intellectualization of indigenous languages in South Africa. The research approach in this study is situated in the phenomenological paradigm. Both the qualitative and quantitative methodology have been employed. Data for this particular study was gathered through voice recordings of naturally occurring conversations, semi-structured interviews and participant observation. Voice recorded conversations were transcribed and analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively under three broad categories; the socio-cultural functions of code-switching, the socio-cultural motivational factors of code-switching and finally the frequency of codeswitches, code-mixes, adopted items and loan shifts based on a corpus designed for this particular study. The Myers-Scotton (1993b; 1998) Markedness Model has been employed as the main backbone theory in the analysis of the socio-cultural functions and motivations of code-switching. The Markedness Model is considered to be a useful tool in which to analyze code-switching because it accounts for the speaker’s socio-psychological motivations when code-switching (Myers- Scotton 1993b:75). Heller’s (1992, 1995) Ideological-political model has also been used as a supplementary model in this study. In order to understand the role and significance of code-switching, it is essential to understand not only its distribution in the Community, but, more importantly, how that distribution is tied to the way groups control both the distribution of access to valued resources and the way in which that value is assigned (Heller 1992:139-140) .


Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2012.


Code switching (Linguistics)--KwaZulu-Natal., Sociolinguistics--KwaZulu-Natal, Zulu language--Social aspects--KwaZulu-Natal., Bilingualism--Social aspects--KwaZulu-Natal., Theses--IsiZulu.