1.1 Background to the Study
Language can be said to be the most complex and
detailed aspect of human existence. It is the DNA of human behaviour and
culture as the people’s history and memory is embedded in it. This memory
encapsulated in language also determine, among other things, how they used
language and how language uses them. This volatile characteristic of language
has birthed, directly and indirectly, such bridge studies such as
sociolinguistics which is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all
aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the
way language is used, and the effects of language use on society (Wikipedia).
The organic feature language implies that it
surfaces in the its use. A person fluent in more than one language would often
find his or herself segueing from one language to another and consequently one
language system to another. Language affects perception and in the expression
of thought verbally, these varying thought patterns is seen.
This switching isn’t just in moving from one
language to another but can be seen in the use of systems of one language in
another showing a consciousness that is tied to a language even when one has
extensive command of the one presently in use. This is how pidgins are born:
the establishment of unique systems in language use across bilingual users.
Against this backdrop, we would be doing a sociolinguistic study of code-mixing
and code switching in secondary schools in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Among secondary school students in Nigeria presently
are varying language uses including English which is the official language and
the language of education. However, these are children who go home to parents
and peers who speak their native language. Sometimes for the singular fact that
there is a lack in a proper teaching of the English language, these secondary
school children leant and use the language through the eyes of their mother
Other times, it is simply the bilingual presence of
dexterity in two languages equally so that thought is exercised simultaneously
in these two or more languages. This is known as code-mixing and interchanged
with another term, code switching by scholars. This phenomenon has been studied
severally across varying language users but not specifically among Nigerian
secondary school students who are unique in that they represent adequately the
percentage of the Nigerian populace who have good command of both languages (English
and their mother tongue).
1.3 Research Questions
Can code-mixing and code-switching be used
What are the factors that inform their presence in
secondary school students’ language use?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
determine if code-mixing and code-switching be used interchangeably.
examine the factors that inform their presence in secondary school students’
1.5 Significance of the Study
This work is of great significance to any
sociolinguist on a research on any of the manifestations of code-mixing and
code-switching among a certain age and topography of Nigeria especially one
whose focus is on a pattered manifestation.
It’s also very relevant for teachers in tracking a
child’s acquisition of a second language and to what extent this child
exercises thought in the languages at his or her disposal. So that the modules
for teaching can be fashioned with a specific aim in view.
1.6 Research Hypothesis
Code-mixing and code switching are not used interchangeably significantly.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study is strictly studying
code-mixing and code-switching among secondary school students across the
different regions in the country. However, the study subject will consist of
one school for each from the different geopolitical zones with one covering for
the whole of the north due to lack of space, time and resources.
Also, data will be gathered through the use of one
on one interactions with the students and the passing of questionnaires with
questions that aims at capturing this form of language use on and off the
1.8 Limitations of the Study
A research such as this one would require a thorough
examination of the sociolinguistic issue of code-mixing and code-switching
across a large pool of students and reading materials as it is a topic that
cuts across disciplines and bridge disciplines. The above are the limitations
of this research work namely the time constraints and financial inadequacies to
cover wider grounds.
1.9 Definition of Term
This is the mixing of two or more languages and
language systems during a speech act so that one slide from one string of
phrases to another.
Most linguists and sociolinguists use both
code-mixing and code-switching interchangeably. However, in code-mixing what is
emphasized is the hybrid created from this mixture of two language system while
code-switching merely captures just this drawing from two language systems.
This bridge discipline between sociology and
linguistics studies in detail the societal influences on language and also how
language influences society.