Code-switching as a form of communication: Insights from a South African public hearing discussion

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 39, issue 1, 2019 , pages: 67–75
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2019.1572324
Author(s): Dorah Riah MabuleDepartment of Linguistics and Modern Languages, South Africa


Code-switching has become a common social means of communication among all language groups in South Africa. It is the use of more than one language in social conversations or in any conversation between two or more people. Social studies on code-switching reveal that switching between languages is not restricted to informal contexts. It also occurs in more formal contexts, such as public hearings, where the use of more than one language serves to achieve specific purposes for effective communication. The aim of this article is to investigate and critically analyse the use of code-switching in a transcript of an event entitled ‘Public hearing of Gauteng Liquor Amendment Bill, 2006: Questions and answers’. The article attempts to answer two questions, namely what circumstances motivate or promote the use of this linguistic strategy, and to what extent people’s multilingual and bilingual competence enable them to apply code-switching, either consciously or unconsciously to achieve maximum effect in a conversation.

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