Patterns and Motivations of Code Switching in Staffroom Conversation: Case Study of Nairobi Aviation College.
Odongo, Eston Kwach
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The Study investigates Motivations and Patterns of Code Switching in a Multilingual urban setting in a College staffroom in Nairobi, Kenya. It outlines the Codes used and the Code Switching patterns in the Staffroom; the reasons for using different Codes in such a setting and the factors that determine the different patterns of Code Switching. In addition, the Study examines the influence of Variables such as Gender, Rank and Age in Code Switching and Code selection. The Study also examines the manifestation of Formal, Informal Code Switching and also the effect of 'outsiders' on Code Switching. All these are determined through an analysis of spontaneous speech tape recorded from College staff conversing in the Staffroom. It is observed that speakers switch Codes in an attempt to exhibit their level of confidence, domination and also when they desire a need for Social integration and approval. It is further revealed that Formal (EnglishlKiswahili) and Informal Codes (Sheng'lMother tongue) are used for different functions; Formal Codes are used to convey a more official context and seriousness while Informal Codes are used for a relaxed context and Informal contexts. The various groups; Male and Female, High and low Rank are consequently found to use these Codes in different ways. It is therefore realized that each of the Codes has a specific function and social symbolism to each individual group. The analysis of the Data reveals that in the College staffroorn, Female Speakers tend to be more Formal in that they use more of Formal Codes and Formal Code Switching than their Male Counterparts. On the other hand, the High Rank/Senior Age group is also more Formal as compared to those speakers who are of Low Rank/Junior Age group. Consequently, it is also noted that Rank of Speakers also determines Code Switching during the entry of 'outsiders' into the staffroom during conversations. Therefore the Variables; Gender, Rank and Age are found to influence Code Switching and Choices differently, Female Speakers and High Rank/Senior Age Speakers are found to be more status-conscious and use more Formal Codes compared to the Male Speakers and also Low Rank/Junior Age Speakers who use more Informal Codes. Age is however found to determine the use of Informal Codes; Mother Tongue and Sheng.' Mother tongue is also found to symbolize conservative attitude and seniority in Age and is therefore used by the Senior Age group/High Ranked Speakers while Sheng' symbolizes Low age or youthfulness and radicalism and is consequently used by the Junior AgedILow Rank Speakers. Therefore these Variables are found to strongly influence the way interlocutors Code Switch in different conversations.