Functions of code switching among multilingual students at Kenyatta University
Muthuri, Dolly Gacheri
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This study examines the language use patterns among multilingual students at Kenyatta University. It outlines both the social and the stylistic functions of code switching and how speakers strategically use different codes to achieve these functions. The study does this through the use of spontaneous speech from four social network groups. Although all the respondents were students in the same university, the various social network groups exhibited different patterns of language use depending on the dynamics of each group. For example the example the first group had English as its Matrix Language (ML) while Kikuyu and Kiswahili were the Embedded Languages (EL). The second group had Kimeru as their ML while English and Kiswahili was the EL. The third group had code mixed utterances as the ML and Kiswahili, Kikuyu and English formed the EL. The last group had Kiswahili, as the ML while the EL was Kimeru and English. In the analysis of the stylistic functions of code switching, Gumperz's (1982) Conversational Functions Model was used. This however had some shortcomings, as it did not explain the communicative intent on the part of the speaker. Using Speech Accommodation Theory (SAT) by Giles et al. (1982) and Negotiation Principle by Scotton 1982), the study focused on the social functions of code switching. It was observed that speakers switch codes in an attempt to coverage from their interlocutors. The rapid back and fourth switches are prompted by the unmarked, marked or exploratory choices. However, each of the codes has its social symbolism and functions. Kiswahili is strategically used to connote brotherhood, national pride and identity. English was found to connote high social status and education. However, Kiswahili was used in a complementary fashion with English in the speech of respondents in relaxed interactions. Vernaculars stood for solidarity and assertiveness and usually to vent out strong emotions. We further noted that speaking in vernacular among the University students is a fact of everyday life. The thesis is divided into five chapters.Chapter one has the general introduction and the methodology of the study. Chapter two contains the literature review while chapter three critically examines the stylistic functions of code switching. Chapter four focuses on the social functions of code switching and the strategies speakers used. Chapter five is a summary of the findings and suggestions on areas for further research.