Bi/multilingual Voices and Audiences? Code-Switching in Zimbabwean Popular Drama, Studio 263

Tevedzerai Gijimah, Collen Sabao


Code-switching is an observed common discourse linguistic behaviour in Zimbabwean popular dramas. The motives and effects of the use of code-switching in such communicative contexts is however an understudied area. This article examines the communicative impact/effects on the audience, of code-switching as a communication strategy in Studio 263, one of Zimbabwe’s popular dramas (soap operas). Observing that code-switching has become part and parcel of Zimbabwean everyday discourses – a situation chiefly resulting from the Zimbabwean linguistic situation characterised by bi/multilingual societies – the analysis explores the rhetorical and communicative potential of code-switching as a communication strategy within the communicative contexts that popular dramas represent and in a bi/multilingual society. The Zimbabwean language situation promotes the use of the English language in all formal communicative events while the ‘indigenous’ languages (Shona and Ndebele) do not enjoy similar privileges. Because English is a second language to the majority of the residents of Zimbabweans, this has resulted in the proliferation of bi/multilingual communities. This article critiques the justification of the use of code-switching in Studio 263 as well as its use as a tool for communicating to a ‘larger’ audience.

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