Code-switching Patterns of Educated and Non-educated Efik-English Bilinguals: A Descriptive Study

Volume 20
Issue 3
Eyo O. Mensah
This article explores the patterns of intra-sentential code-switching in actual conversational interactions of educated and non-educated Efik-English bilinguals. A non-educated bilingual has limited English language proficiency while the educated bilingual is fluent in English; hence the tendency for switching among the latter category is higher. The study recognizes some social, cultural and situational factors that come to play as code-switching manifests as a communicative strategy amongst these bilinguals. Data for the study were sourced from interviews, metalinguistic conversations and recordings of naturally occurring interactions of educated and non-educated bilinguals. The study is based theoretically on Muysken’s (2000) typology of language mixing which involves the insertion of materials from one language into the structure from the other language and the alternation between structures of the two languages.The article concludes that the non-educated bilingual supplements code-switching as an innovative discourse mechanism while the educated bilingual uses the device as a complementary function which increases the impact of his or her language use and provides continuity for social negotiations in discourse. English serves as the matrix language for the educated bilinguals, and it is the embedded language for the non-educated bilinguals while Efik is the matrix language of the non-educated bilingual, and the embedded language of the educated bilingual. Among these bilinguals, code-switching enhances communication flow and provides a more favorable response to bilingualism.

Keywords: Code-switching, Linguistic Ideology, Bi/multilingualism, Efik-English, Matrix Language, Embedded Language, Nigeria