Identifying the Functions of Code Switching in Computer Mediated Online Communication

Areej Dawoud, Sayyed Rashid Shah


This study aims to explore the functions of code switching of English-Arabic speakers in a computer-based online communication. Its goal is to understand whether code switching on the internet has the same functions as face-to-face interaction in real time situation. In addition, it aims to highlight the different conversational characteristics of code switching in a virtual environment, such as online chat. Adopting a Conversational Analysis (CA) approach, the data were collected from online Paltalk chatrooms, specifically "BnatKSA". The six participants, three males and three females were proficient in English and Arabic languages. Using bidirectional English-Arabic code switching, the six participants frequently chatted online for two hours a day over a period of one month. The findings indicate a wide range of functions of code switching on the internet. Some of these functions are unique and context specific, which can be considered a contribution to the body of knowledge. The findings suggest that the range of code switching functions online is broader and more meaningful than face-to-face communication in real time situation.

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