Difference between Code Mixing VS Code Switching.

Code Mixing is a language in which a speaker speaks more than one language mixing another, these languages is only understand by those who are familiar with the same.

In other words, the alternating use of words and grammatical structures of another language by a bilingual to convey social meanings is known as code-Mixing.

Code switching, in which the speaker stops speaking one language and start another when someone arrives and not able to understand the earlier one.

For ex: The speaker was Spanish and by the time when someone arrives who does not familiarize with Spanish, so the speaker switches the language.

Therefore, Code mixing and Code switching are two language choice by the speaker at micro or interpersonal level.

Code-Mixing refers to the mixing of two or more of language in speech. Code Mixing which  is not chaotic but follows grammatical rules, not of one language but two languages. Code Mixing is not arbitrary but functional, hence it conveys the social meaning identity and distancing with regards to speech participants and speech content. Basically, mixing language unconsciously is common in kids nowadays while on the other hand, Code- Switching is interchangeably that means, it is the ability to switch or change from one language to another while speaking or by the speaker. Therefore, Code-Switching is also a linguistic behavior of competent bilingual as Code-Mixing.

Code Switching is however, is contingent on change in speech participants or speech content in the course of conversation. These changes necessitate the choice of another language appropriate for the new set of speech participants or the new speech content.

Also, Code Switching of language takes place even when there is no conspicuous change. The speaker may negotiate the social relationships with other participants in terms of solidarity and power by the switching of his/her language in the course of the conversation.

For ex; a Russian family migrated from Russia to London and the children have grown up speaking Russian, but they have also learnt English outside of their home. So, that when the children speak to their cousins, they might switch the code between English to Russian or Russian to English.

Therefore, where code switching is common in certain countries, where a native language is spoken alongside with a former colonial language.

For example; In India where people normally switches code between Hindi to English and English to Hindi.

Thus, code switching occurs or takes place in according to the situation occurs, like; people switch languages in single situation within a single conversation and sometimes within a sentence.

Code switching is unpredictable as speakers often impulsively switch language without any conscious choice. In code switching, one language is dominant, normally the native language of the group hence, it is sometimes called Matrix language.


What is the reason behind code switching? Or  Why do people need to switch the language?

There are several reasons in which people need to switch the language from one to another,

  1. Directive function– in this people switch language to either include or exclude other people from the conversation. Code switching take place if the person wants to tell secret so that people around are not able to understand or maybe the speaker want to end the conversation and want to engage with the people near you.
  • Expressive function– in which people include the embedded language in order to express some of their identity, for ex; if they want to show their connection to a certain country or culture.
  • Referential function– in this, someone is unable to express an idea easily in one language so, they switch to other language in order to express it more easily.

 For ex; this type of switching is very common in bilingual and immigrant families.

  • Poetic function– the speaker says certain word or makes jokes in the embedded language for amusement humor.

Apart from above mentioned reasons there are several other reasons which takes place like, Phatic function, Metalinguistic function etc.

Conclusion: code- mixing and code-switching are strategic interspersed use of two or more languages to achieve communicative and social goals. Also, it increases the functionality of languages.

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