A Sociolinguistic Anaysis of Code Switching and Code Mixing in Selected Jenifa’s Diary Episodes
Chapter One of A Sociolinguistic Anaysis of Code Switching and Code Mixing in Selected Jenifa’s Diary Episodes
Background to the study
Code-switching is the use of more than one language, variety, or style by a speaker within an utterance or discourse, or between different interlocutors or situations (Romaine, 1992:110). In linguistics, code-switching occurs when a speaker alternates between two or more languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation (Richard, 2005). However, Wardhaugh (2012: 103), states that code mixing occurs when a conversant use both languages together to the extent that they change from one language to the other in the course of a single utterance. It means that the conversant just changes some of the elements in their utterance. Code mixing takes place without a change of topic and can involve various levels of language, e.g., morphology and lexical items.
Code-mixing and code-switching are important aspects of sociolinguistics because of their use and status in the society. The continued exploration of various facets of code change is therefore not a surprise, as it has more than just (socio) linguistic, anthropological and psychological implications. To the extent that the way people talk is the expression of their personal, social, cultural and other identities, it is not an exaggeration to say that it actually affects the majority of the world’s population and, although has often been viewed as a stigmatized form of bilingual discourse, there is no doubt that learning more about the underlying rules of code-switching can only contribute to more awareness among speakers of poles apart (Adetuyi and Jegede, 2016).
Different reasons have been put forward by various authors and researchers to explain why people mix code and code switch. It is obvious that they have negative and positive effects on the use of the language. It then becomes necessary that these concepts related to human society and our educational system receive sufficient attention to be known and also used effectively where it is needed. In a society where people speak more than one language, there is usually one language naturally influenced by others. Some of the effects of multilingualism are code mixing and code change, bilingualism, diglossia, and so on. When a speaker comes into contact with two or more languages, he can start using the languages together, even if it is not necessarily with equal competence. However, these languages influence each other and often lead to code mixing and code switching (Kuntze, 2000). A typical context showing that speakers’ mix or switch codes can be found in Jenifa Diary.
However, Jenifa’s Diary is a Nigerian television comedy series, created by Funke Akindele. The series is part of the Jenifa franchise, based on a naive and funny character of the same name. Jenifa’s Dairy has over 11 (possibly going to 13) seasons and is currently active and ongoing (Ikeke, Nkem, 2017). This series tells a story of a native village girl who desperately wants to get out of her ratchet way of life. In her desperation she leaves her village and goes to the city of Lagos in order to process her visa to travel to the United States. Although unsuccessful with her visa application she decides to stay in Lagos and live a better life. She then finds herself in University of Lagos, with the help of a lady she met, Toyo baby (Olayode Juliana) and Kiki (Lota Chukwu) who help and accommodate her (Izuzu Chidumga, 2017).
Jenifa is unsuccessful with her education but she gets a job at Nikki’o salon on the Island with the help of her friend kiki and she becomes very successful in her hair styling career. At Nikki’o saloon she meets another stylist, Segun (Folarin ‘Falz’ Falana) who becomes interested in her but she at first rejects him, but later accepts his proposal after he goes to America and they both get engaged (Ikeke, Nkem, 2017). All over the country, people always in anticipation of the next episode on the series, the excitement almost grew to a feverish pitch. Even old men and women were hardened fans. But that ain’t the most amazing part. The most amazing part is how young people all over the country, especially the females, have resorted to speaking like Jenifa, the series’ main character, who’s major selling point was her corrupted form of English (Anozie, 2017).
On the other hand, by virtue of communicative configuration, imitated speech can be used. It should be stressed that Jenifa’s Diary allows for a dramatized discourse; it can create, correlate, and contrast different speakers. By so doing, it imitates real life scenarios of the deployments of different languages in a typical oral discourse among Nigerians.
But on a lighter yet more serious note, this trend might not be bad, but it definitely ain’t productive. And why do something unproductive when the time could be better spent doing the opposite. And for those arguing that English is not our mother tongue, it might not be our mother tongue, but it is still the official language. And it is still a compulsory subject in o’level and all other sorts of exams (Anozie, 2017). It is on this note that this study intends to find out what motivated code switching and code mixing in some of the characters in Jenifa’s Diary Episodes, and it also intends to find out why.
Statement of the problem
A few studies have been carried out on bilingual speakers of English. Some of the studies focus on the way speakers of English code switch and mix between different language codes in their daily dialogues or conversations. All these studies drew their data from real life contexts. None of them investigated the use of code switch and mix in dramatized utterances. Investigating code switch and code mixing in Jenifa’s Diary Episodes will assist us in identifying how these phenomena are used among Nigerians. This is the gap this study intends to fill.