Analysing Afrikaans-English bilingual children’s conversational code switching

  • Joanine Nel Department of General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University
  • Kate Huddlestone Department of General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University
Keywords: Afrikaans, English, code switching, bilingual, Matrix Language Frame model, Conversation Analysis


It has been observed that children mix languages more often if they have been exposed to mixed speech, especially if they are in bilingual company. Very little research, however, exists on the code switching (CS) of children brought up in multilingual contexts. The study discussed in this paper investigates the grammatical and socio-pragmatic characteristics of the conversational CS of three Afrikaans-English bilingual children and aims to contribute towards a better understanding of child CS. The study was conducted through the analysis of spontaneous conversational CS elicited during multiple play sessions. Data were analysed within the frameworks of the Matrix Language Frame (MLF) model and Conversation Analysis (CA). The study accounts for the different types of CS that occur, and examines which grammatical and/or socio-pragmatic difficulties may drive children to use specific types of CS, while also considering whether the context of an utterance has an influence on how and why CS takes place. 


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