Literature Project Topics

A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Code Switching and Code Mixing in Selected Jenifa’s Diary Episodes 

A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Code Switching and Code Mixing in Selected Jenifa’s Diary Episodes

A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Code Switching and Code Mixing in Selected Jenifa’s Diary Episodes



The major aim of the study is to examine code mixing and code switching in selected Jenifa’s Diary episodes.

  1. To examine the major reasons for code switching and code mixing in selected Jenifa’s Diary episodes.
  2. To determine the level of code mixing and code switching among women in Nigeria.
  3. To determine the effect of code mixing and code switching on communication in selected Jenifa’s Diary episodes.
  4. To recommend ways of effective communication in selected Jenifa’s Diary episodes.




In this section, the concepts to be defined are code, code-switching and codemixing.


In this study, code will be taken as a verbal component that can be as small as a morpheme or as comprehensive and complex as the entire system of language. As such, the Yoruba language is a code, so also is its single morpheme.


Several scholars have attempted to define code-switching and code-mixing. Among them are Amuda (1989), Atoye (1994) and Belly (1976). For instance, Hymes (1974) defines only code-switching as “a common term for alternative use of two or more languages, varieties of a language or even speech styles” while Bokamba (1989) defines both concepts thus:

Code-switching is the mixing of words, phrases and sentences from two distinct grammatical (sub) systems across sentence boundaries within the same speech event… code-mixing is the embedding of various linguistic units such as affixes (bound morphemes), words (unbound morphemes), phrases and clauses from a co-operative activity where the participants, in order to infer what is intended, must reconcile what they hear with what they understand.


A close look at studies in language variation can lead us to conclude that a man’s speech is a form of his social identity because in many respects, a man is what he says. In other words, a man’s speech can make him belong to a particular speech community or social class. For instance, a man’s social class as reflected through his use of language can be predicted by his occupation, level of education, ethnic background, gender, religious affiliation, and a number of other social parameters of language use. The varieties of language use, based on these social variables are called social dialects (Yule 2002:240). In recent studies of language variation, these social dialects are usually the outcomes of carefully documented details of the social backgrounds of speakers of a language. The variables are responsible for the uniqueness of every group of people and as such, foreground the various existing cultures. This implies that people’s languages vary and differ correspondingly as their cultures, and that language can be considered as “a system of rule sharing” (Longe 1995:19).Thus, using a language is a process of “sharing the rules of that language, as well as the customs’ ”, and it is the conformity to these rules that makes a language contextually appropriate or not, and a language user to be communicatively competent, or otherwise.





In order to ascertain this point, an investigation was conducted in a particular speech community, directed towards selected Jenifa’s Diary episodes. Here, Yoruba is mostly spoken as the first language (L1) of the marketers.


As shown in Appendix 1, a questionnaire was designed to find out from its respondents the types of languages acquired at different periods in their lives as well as the various functions that the languages were meant to perform. Fifty copies of it were randomly distributed to participants who exhibited to a very large extent the traits of code-switching and code-mixing in their speeches and were very accessible to the investigator in the area.

Moreover, most of the respondents were middle-aged, falling within the age brackets of 25 to 40 years. They could then be said to have reached a stage in their lives and had experience to a level at which their linguistic habits could be said to have stabilized. Also, their speech usages in Yoruba and/or English could safely be assumed to be characteristically indicative of most Yoruba-English bilinguals with similar educational background and life experience if the respondents’ language behaviours are similar in identifiable situations.

The same investigator who had personally distributed the questionnaires to the respondents equally collected back all the fifty copies issues out.



As shown in Appendix 2, the questionnaires indicate that forty-five (90%) of the respondents spoke Yoruba as their first language (L1); one (2%) spoke pidgin English; three (6%) spoke Ijaw and one (2%) spoke Urhobo before primary school age.

This demonstrates that before speakers in Jenifa’s diary, many of them are monolinguals and Yoruba is the only language of communication for most (90%) of them. At their primary school age, however, English starts to play an increasingly important role in their communicative lives, while Yoruba is still being acquired as the first language (L1), in addition to being taught as a school subject. Moreover, within this Yoruba-speaking community, especially in the urban centres, there are special private schools where the only language of instruction and the only language taught the pupils is English.

The point being made here is that, right from the primary school, two languages (Yoruba and English) start to co-exist in the speech stock of the average child in the community. In effect, the child starts to become bilingual right from the primary school stage of education. Since, at this stage, the grammar of the first language has not been thoroughly grasped, and the child would naturally want to express himself using all the linguistic resources at his disposal, it is likely that the process of “grammatical coalescence” of Yoruba and English would have begun at this level.



The foregoing study appears to have shown that code-switching and codemixing correlate positively with the educational attainment of individuals. As shown also, both phenomena have their merits as well as demerits in the speech repertoire of their users. Thus, code mixing in selected Jenifa’s Diary episodes improves relationship with customers thereby increasing the rate of buying and selling and the ease of communication and trust.


  • Akere, F. 1977. A Sociolinguistic Study of a Yoruba Speech Community in Nigeria: Variation and Change in the Ijebu Dialect of Ikorodu, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Edinburgh.
  • Amuda, A. 1989. Attitudes to Code-switching: The Case of Yoruba and English. Odu, New Series, No. 35.
  • Ansre, G. 1971. The Influence of English on West African Languages. In: J. Spencer (ed.), The English Language in West Africa. Ibadan: Ibadan University Press.
  • Atoye, R.O. 1994. Code-mixing, Code-switching, Borrowing and Linguistic Competence: Some Conceptual Fallacies. In: B. Adediran (ed.), Cultural Studies in Ife. Ile-Ife: The Institute of Cultural Studies.
  • Bamgbose, A. 1971. The English Language in Nigeria. In: J. Spencer (ed.), The English Language in West Africa. Ibadan: Ibadan University Press.
  • Belly, R.T. 1976. Sociolinguistics: Goals, Approaches And Problems. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd.
  • Bokamba, E. 1989. Are there Syntactic Constraints on Code-mixing? World Englishes 8(3). Cheng, L. & Butler, K. 1989.
  • Fromkin, Victoria, Robert, Rodman, Hyams, Nina (2011) An Introduction to Language. Ninth                Edition. International Edition. Canada: Wardsworth Cengage Learning
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