Structural Patterns of Multilingual Codeswitching between Arabic and English

Alaa Hamdan M Alhamdan


As multilingualism is increasingly embraced in Saudi Arabia, the inevitable practice of codeswitching is a topic of heated debate. While it has been the subject of strong-held beliefs and opinions, established scholarly work is needed to enlighten the understanding of this use of languages. Hence, this study explored naturally occurring data of the codeswitching use of Arabic and English by multilingual Arab students as they attend Arabic weekly cultural seminar sessions during their temporary stay and study in the US. It captures their codeswitching use via video recordings and subjected to linguistic analyses on three levels: whole text-level, sentence-level and morpheme-level, with the implementation of the mixed-method approach. The findings revealed that the linguistic analysis of 523 codeswitching occurrences found in the data revealed the structural complexity and variety of codeswitching as a linguistic resource available to multilinguals fluent in Arabic and English. Occurring spontaneously and rather unpredictably in multilingual interactions, it disproved common Saudi and other perceptions of it as a form of language offense and careless linguistic behavior.


Codeswitching, Arabic, English, Linguistic Analysis, Matrix Language, morphemes

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