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Somali English Bilingual Analytical


Multilingualism is the use of multiple language by an individual speaker. The transcript is a Somali English bilingual in London. The extract is from a multigenerational family talk, where I recorded my family members, my mum, sister and niece talking (Dashtipour et al. (2016). All these family members can understand both Somali and English. Currently, language is an essential aspect that determines the peculiarities of people's interactions. Multilingualism has manifested itself globally, and it is inevitable due to the increased levels of human interaction across all cultures and language groupings (Zhang & Giles, 2017). Multilingualism is critical since it has been used to improve communication. Therefore, individual who understand more than two languages use them interchangeably to enhance communication. During code-switching, it helps people express themselves adequately for the listeners to understand them better. According to Dashtipour et al. (2016), multilingual persons engage in code-switching to fill in for the deficiency that one language or speaker may have. Similarly, it helps in bringing out the attitude and relationship between the listener and speaker. Therefore, this study will explore the setting, topic domain analysis participants' analysis using the accommodation theory and the purpose/function of switching.


This study will explore what triggers code-switching by using Domain Analysis, context (setting), topic, participants and purpose. Data were collected in an informal discussion recorded in the home domain. Besides, the data recorded was then analyzed and categorized into several dyads to explain the relation between the young people’s code-switching. According to Mukenge and Chimbarange (2012), the linguistic domains is the classes of situations and denote the (social) context of interaction. Multilingualism often begins in the family and stresses the role relations other than individuals’ preference of the code. The conversation context is the general home conversation which uses less formal language though has high use of positive relationships development. The topic of the context was of a mother asking her daughter whether she brought her medication and about eating dinner. The talk was just a mare family discussion that expressed various code-switching to create understanding. Whatsapp Also, the analysis applied accommodation theory to explore participants’ language behaviours towards another and participant’s identity, respect, norms and rapport towards another. The model was developed by Howard Giles and explains the variations of speech occurrences observed in a discourse between presenters and their respondents (Zhang & Giles, 2017). The analysis focused on cognitive and affective processes underlying family conversation, including convergence and divergence aspects. According to Soliz and Colaner (2017), discussion is a strategy where individuals adapt to one another speech through several linguistic levels and in a way that is not easily applicable based on the normative demands of the situation. Often, communicators converge in their talk when they have a close relationship.

Domain Analysis and Accommodation Theorr

Setting: Domain Analysis

The setting of the discussion is home, and the speaker uses Informal context and language. The speaker quickly switches from Somali to English and English to Somali. For example, the parent switches from English to Somali, “Just now ban nimid”. Similar switching is shown in “They didn’t have kiniinka dhiikarka so wey ku order gareeyeen". From the setting, code-switching is triggered by the environment and need to enhance understanding. The home talk is using code-switching as a way of thinking to show respect within the discussion and encourage others to participate in the discussion. For example, the child says, "Hi grandma…..Peace be upon you my lovely grandma". The child is polite and prays for good health for her grandmother. This dialogue also shows empathy through sharing grandmother’s experiences. According to Hofweber et al. (2020), people become multilingual because they can speak more than one language and when they need to emphasize their message.

Domain Analysis

The domain of the chat is the home domain and in a typical' family interaction. The formal and informal topics trigger code-switching. The dialogue contains various topics which create the need for code-switching. For example, grandmother asks, "Did you get my medication when you were coming?"- Medication kii ma isoo qaaday markaas soo socotay. This topic is serious since it concerns the health of the grandmother. The codes switch from English to Somali and focus on creating the impression of urgency. On the other hand, the topic of cleanliness is also emphasized, "Take your shoes off before you go into the room". This transcript switch codes to show emphasis, though, in an informal dialogue.

Accommodation Theory

The participants of the dialogue are family members - Older and younger. In the United Kingdom, it is a common norm that young people must treat elderly people with dignity and respect. Acheson and Malone (2020) state that respect is practised by being polite and showing respect all the time- part of everyday etiquette. The study reveals that in dialogue, respect is shown by not interrupting others and addressing people using their name/title (p.105). This creation of respect in the family triggers code-switching, making conversation switch from English to Somali and vice versa. For example, the child says, “Manta waxaa dhacay mataqaana ayeeyo? Mummy came to pick me up from school markaas wexey ii kaxeeysay shop because it’s my birthday”. This dialogue has an Intra-sentential and switch of codes from Somali to English then into Somali ended with English. To analyse the family discussion, Communication Accommodation Theory is very useful. According to the theory, when individuals seek approval in a social event, they converge while people divergent speech when the speaker emphasises the social distance between the interlocutors and themselves. Therefore, people have to understand their communication patterns and that of others. From the family dialogue, various people converge for multiple reasons. For example, in excerpt 6, the child converges to show respect and demonstrate politeness, “Hi grandma …. Aslamu alaikum ayeeyo macaan". Soliz & Colaner (2017) state that convergence helps others feel at ease, increase understanding, and enhance social bonds. By praying for good health and greeting her politely, there are aspects of convergence that raise awareness and promote social bond. Also, the child switches from English to Somali to accommodate her grandmother's language competence. Also, it shows how close the child is to her grandmother. Besides, in excerpt 5, the parent suggests that "They didn't have kiniinka dhiikarka so wey ku order gareeyeen". This extract show code-switching from English into Somali, then into English, then into Somali, then into English, then ended with Somali. In this excerpt, the speakers are switching code to accommodate the grandmother whose medicine was not bought. Through adjusting the language, a more informal but hopeful tone is created. Similarly, to show convergence, the speakers tell the grandmother, "they ordered it for you". This is an accommodating and converging strategy that is used to create a less tense environment. Parker et al. (2017) state that accommodating others while communicating involves anything from adjusting how fast you talk to code-switching and dialect or language change. Therefore, code-switching is used as a convenience strategy and share the experience of grandmother. In excerpt nine, the child shows some aspect of divergence though politely. After being told to remove her shoes, he replies, “Okia mummy. I feel so daal hada because I have been running mantoo dhan in the school”. Though the child starts by converging, "Okia mummy", she diverges by saying, "I feel so tired now….” This statement show her unwillingness to remove her shoes. However, she later converges towards the end of the sentence by saying, "I have been running a lot in the school today". This statement is used to accommodate the statement by the parent. Similarly, the child is showing easy switching and more English competence in the excerpt. Therefore, code-switching is generally due to increased knowledge of second language knowledge and incompetence in the indigenous language, thus use more second language. Similarly, in excerpt one, the grandmother show convergence "Gormee timaaden?" Somali elderly would often use pure Somali or code-switch from L2 (English) into L1 (Somali) because they incompetent in L2 (English) is not as tight as a younger member of the family. Therefore, code-switching is used due to second language incompetence. Switching due to language incompetence is shown in excerpt three, where grandma uses the single English word “medication”. Moreover, code-switching has been used to reinforce the critical message and specific connotations linked to the other language. For example, the parent says, "Take your shoes off intaadan qolka fadhiga galin", from the transcript. This is translated as, "Take your shoes off before you go into the room". This show that the speaker is emphasising taking off shoes, especially while getting in the house.

Purpose/Function of switching

Code-switching is used as a way of showing respect and following community norms. Younger Somalis often switch Somali into English when communicating with an older adult, whereby it's the norm to use L1 (Somali) to that older adult to show inclusivity, respect, show identification with the group. However, since the young ones are born in the UK, they experience much incompetence in the Somali language. Thus they are forced to switch from Somali to English. However, at the same time, the child is making efforts to converge by trying to speak Somali to grandmother. ode-switching is also used to show ethnic identity, the speaker's social class, and educational background. As seen in the data, both the parent and child are learned and show great competence in switching from one language to another. However, the grandmother is mainly using Somali. In most of her chat, Somali's use shows that she is incompetent with English, thus revealing a low level of English knowledge. Also, code-switching shows the ability to communicate effectively as the participants switch to emphasize particular terms in the original language.

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Multilingualism is the use of more than one language by a speaker. Multilingualism has increased globally, and due to globalization, it has become inevitable across all cultures. It is used to improve communication since speakers often switch codes while communicating to emphasize their message. The setting of the dialogue is home and involves less formal communication. However, communication is characterized by increased respect and convergence. The topic is typical family activities or typical’ family interaction. The dialogue has various themes like medication, hygiene and dinner. Also, while looking at the participants, there is increased convergence in the communication. The accommodation theory explains this phenomenon. The approach reveals that individuals seek approval in a social situation, thus converging. On the other hand, individual who move away from seeking approval are diverging. Various participants are converging through the use of code-switching from English to Somali and black. Code-switching is used to show respect and adherence to community norms. The data was limited due to the small sample size; thus, its outcome cannot be applied in a large population. Therefore, reviewing other secondary source is very critical for comparison.


Acheson, J. and Malone, R., 2020. Respect Your Elders: Evidence from Ireland’s R&D Tax Credit Reform. The Economic and Social Review, 51(1, Spring), pp.105-131.

Dashtipour, K., Poria, S., Hussain, A., Cambria, E., Hawalah, A.Y., Gelbukh, A. and Zhou, Q., 2016. Multilingual sentiment analysis: state of the art and independent comparison of techniques. Cognitive computation, 8(4), pp.757-771.

Hofweber, J., Marinis, T. and Treffers-Daller, J., 2020. How different code-switching types modulate bilinguals’ executive functions: A dual control mode perspective. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 23(4), pp.909-925.

Mukenge, C. and Chimbarange, A., 2012. A discourse analysis of the use of code switching in the film Yellow Card. International Journal of Linguistics, 4(4), pp.581-589.

Parker, D.W., Kunde, R. and Zeppetella, L., 2017. Exploring communication in project-based interventions. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management.

Soliz, J. and Colaner, C.W., 2017. Communication accommodation theory and communication theory of identity: Theories of communication and identity. In Engaging theories in family communication: Multiple perspectives (pp. 75-86). Taylor and Francis.

Zhang, Y.B. and Giles, H., 2017. Communication accommodation theory. The international encyclopedia of intercultural communication, pp.1-14.

DATA SET - Transcription – Multigenerational family household (English and Somali)

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