Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Fuller, Janet


This study observed the occurrence of code switching among six Arabic-English Saudi bilingual children living in the United States at the time of the study. A mixed-methods research design using quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques was applied in order to investigate the presence of code switching in the speech of the participants, the different types of code switching involved, and their social motivations. Three research instruments were used for the purpose of the study: a parental questionnaire, language portraits, and recorded Arabic and English storytelling sessions. Syntactic and sociolinguistic approaches were employed; the Markedness Model by Myers-Scotton (1993) was adopted to examine the social motivation behind code switching, and Poplack’s (1980) classification of code switching was used to identify code switching patterns. Overall, the findings revealed the participant’s dominant and preferred language to be English, the presence of intrasentential and intersentential code switching, a preference for intersentential over intrasentential code switching, the function of code switching, and the role of social motivations in language choice and code switching. Moreover, this study contributes to the current research on the Markedness Model among bilingual children by providing evidence for Myers-Scotton (1993) as marked and unmarked code switching was observed among the participants. This study also agrees with previous studies (e.g. Myers-Scotton, 2002; Bolonyai, 2005; Fuller, Elsman, & Self, 2007) that argued that bilingual children are rational and social actors who choose a given code intentionally to achieve certain social goals in a given interaction.




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