CODE-SWITCHING IN A DIASPORIC COMMUNITY: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC CASE STUDY OF A PRESCHOOL LIBYAN MULTILINGUAL GIRL
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Code-switching is a natural process of multilingualism that is typically related to linguistics, sociolinguistics, and psycholinguistics. Such factors are responsible for a pre-school child’s switching among the acquired languages. The current study examines a case of a four-year-old Libyan child who has been living in North-Cyprus for three years before the study. It specifically aimed to investigate the process of code-switching of the focal child in terms of patterns of switching (linguistic items and linguistic codes), and functions of switching. A linguistic ethnographic design was adopted. The primary mode of data collection was audio-recordings of everyday naturally occurring interactions, supported by participant observations, semi-structured interviews and playback sessions. A total of 300 hours of audio-recordings were made over a period of two months. Micro-discourse analysis (MDA) was implemented to analyze the data. The results of the examination of the codes among which Sara, the focal child, switched showed that a total of 260 switches were recorded among Arabic, English and Turkish. In terms of the structure of the language used by Sara through the research period, she was observed to predominantly switch basic parts of speech (nouns, verbs, and adjectives) among the three languages. Accordingly, data analysis showed that there were four main reasons behind Sara’s code-switching. These were; to maintain social interaction, to assert her position, language development, and pragmatic and psycholinguistic factors. It is suggested that further research should address the influence of the sociolinguistic and pragmatic factors in a multilingual child’s speech acts as well as the relationship of the non-verbal interaction with the implementation of language codes, i.e. code-switching among the three focal languages and the Libyan regional dialects.