Code-switching and mixing builds vocabulary, says socio-linguist

Major cities like Johannesburg are a space where people with diverse cultures and languages have to find ways to communicate with each other.

In order to communicate with others who do not speak their languages, people use what linguists call code-switching. They use two or more languages in a single conversation.

This seems to be working perfectly for speakers in South Africa's diverse communities, who have created new phrases by combining different languages. But arguments vary about what this means for language preservation.

On #NightTalk, Gugs Mhlungu and Sizwe Dhlomo spoke to Dr Thabo Ditsele, senior lecturer and socio-linguist at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), about the significance of code switching in languages.

Listen to the conversation below...

We use code-switching in a generic sense. Strictly speaking we have code switching and code mixing. The difference is with code switching you would say the first part of your thought in English, and the second part in Tswana. Whereas code mixing happens when you for example speak in Tswana and slot one English word as you go along. But for people who don't know linguistics they may use code switching for both language appearances.

Dr Thabo Ditsele, seniour lecturer and socio-linguist at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)

You dream in a language that you best express yourself in.

Dr Thabo Ditsele, seniour lecturer and socio-linguist at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)

As a socio-linguist I have an appreciation for the terminology developed in society. Code switching and mixing is good because it enriches vocabulary. It shows that as human beings we are dynamic.

Dr Thabo Ditsele, seniour lecturer and socio-linguist at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)

If people around us don't speak the same language as your first language you will reinterpret or translate the thought you originally conceptualised in your first language.

Dr Thabo Ditsele, seniour lecturer and socio-linguist at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)
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