Malay-English Code-switching in a Discussion Forum

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Zaemah Abdul Kdir
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Code-switching is a widespread phenomenon in a bilingual community and this issue has become one of the main focuses in the studies of bilingualism. The emergence of code-switching research in sociocultural linguistic is greatly contributed to Blom and Gumperz (1972) who introduced the terms situational code-switching and metaphorical code-switching. Since then, a lot of studies had been carried out which rendered mostly around conversational code-switching. However, this study focuses on Malay-English code-switching in online communication among students of higher learning in Malaysia. This research examines discourse functions of code-switching in computed-mediated communication. Computer-mediated communication refers to any form of communication enabled through the use of computers. In the CMC literature, the term generally refers to communication modalities dependent on computer-based networks or meta-networks, particularly the Internet and commercial online services.
Data were collected from the online forums sent by students of distance learning program in Universiti Teknologi MARA Malaysia. The online discussion forum allows students in this program to communicate with their fellow classmates, lecturers and other e-distance learning students. The messages posted by the students when communicating online with their classmates and lecturers were analysed to investigate the emergence pattern of code-switching in this forum. This study hopes to enrich the knowledge on the study on code-switching in computer-mediated communication and to motivate other researchers to conduct further studies in this area.