Chapter One



Language is a unit of a cultural identity in every society. It grows as the society or the ethnic group grows or expands. It also dies if the society or the ethnic group is endangered by other languages. Onovughe (2014) stated that; the acquisition and learning process of every language is centered on communication, as it is the basic way for transmitting values, culture and identity of the people. Language gives detail of the world-view of its speakers, which comprises of beliefs, values, thoughts, way of living and their views about the surrounding world. Therefore, a loss in language can relate to the loss of its people, their values, cultures and identity for ever.

The most prominent problem associated with language death is the contact indigenous/native languages have with English language and other languages. Having the ability of communicating effectively across and within the ethnic borders led to what is now known as code-switching. Code-switching is a phenomena that has made so many speakers to know little or nothing from their native language. Inuwa, Christopher and Bakrin (2014) argue that code- switching may contribute a lot towards the loss or death of a language. As opined by Blench (1998), small but culturally dominant language groups and demographic crises caused by labour migration/urbanism are among the factors that are likely to influence the phenomena. If, for instance, a language spoken at home is different from the language use within community in the market, school, work place, etc. then this language is likely to eventually die out, because it is a limited language.

In Fulfulde, the issue of language loss/death is likely to have a very low tendency of occurrence. This is because, the language contact shared with the ethnic groups is very strong, and

these, made Fulfulde and Hausa to be the second language (L2). These languages also serve as the linguafranca in most communities within the local governments in Adamawa State.

Every bilingual/multilingual speakers have the ability and the right to communicate in their native language (L1) or in their second language (L2) and also to switch back and forth between these languages. Thus, bilingual/multilingual phenomena of code-switching is very common in every bilingual or multilingual environment. As cited in Kim (2006), Harmers and Blanc regards ‘code-switching’ and ‘code-mixing’ as a sign of incompetence in a certain language. However, this argument points out the negative effect that is mostly associated with the subject.

This paper seeks to investigate the reasons that encourage speakers to switch back and forth between Fulfulde and English language among the native speakers in Yola South Local Government, alongside looking into the demographic and other sociolinguistic factors that contribute to code-switching.

Statement of Research Problem

The rate at which people code-switch today is seen as a major problem in the society and the speaker as well. Furthermore, the language contact shared by the neighboring languages, especially English and Hausa has led to code-switching in conversations. As cited by Onovughe (2007), Rafiu observes that indigenous speakers have dropped their languages because they see them as a barrier to their development; where many have given up their native languages for English. This argument has led to the development of the following problems:-

  • Is there a need to switch from one language to another in a daily conversation?
  • Code-switching is now becoming a great factor that is likely to affect the development of a language either in a negative or a positive way.

Specific Objectives of the study

This research aims at investigating the social factors that triggers speakers to switch between Fulfulde and English in their daily conversations. This work focuses basically on conversations on fluent Fulfulde speakers in Yola South local Government.

Main Objectives of the Study

The main objectives of the study are:-

  • To investigate the reasons that lead to switching back and forth from Fulfulde to English language in a conversation.
  • To find which parts of speech are code-switched more often in a conversation and why.
  • To find out where speakers mostly switch in a conversation.
  • To find out whether social differences among code-switchers like educational level, gender and age differences encourage code-switching.
  • To investigate the social factors that motivate code-switching among individuals.

Research Questions

  1. What are the reasons that lead to switching back and forth from Fulfulde to English in a conversation?
  2. Which parts of speech are code-switched more often in a conversation and why?
  • What is the sentence position of the code-switched utterance?
  • Do social differences among Code-switchers like gender, age and educational background encourage code-switching?
  • Are there any social factors that motivates code-switching among individuals?

Scope and Limitation of the Study

This research aims at investigating the sociolinguistic factors that leads to code-switching in Yola South. The work would very beneficial in finding more factors that motivativates code- switching if the researcher could extend the research to other local governments in Adamawa State to get a larger scope, but due to time and human resource constraints, the research work is limited to Yola South local government area.

The instrument used for primary data source is limited to sound recordings obtained from Adamawa Broadcasting Cooperation and Puulaku FM Yola. In addition, access to related studies is among the limitations of this research. Though there has been so much research done on code- switching, there is very little done relating to Fulfulde language. Therefore, the literature is based on the general concept of code-switching.


Code-switching is a very diverse and broad topic. Though there are numerous published works relating to various subtopics of code-switching which include sociolinguistic study of code- switching, sociocultural code-switching, motivations for code-switching, etc. However, no work has been presented or submitted in any institution on “Motivations for Code-switching Among Fulfulde Speakers in Yola South.

Definition of Terms

  • Code-switching: – the practice of changing from one language to another in a conversation. It is also the process of shifting from one linguistic code (language or dialect) to another depending on the social context or conversational setting.
  • Code: – a unit of language variation that enables mutual communication among individuals.
  • Bilingual: – an individual that has the ability to speak two languages.
  • Multilingual: – an individual that has the ability to speak more than two languages.
  • Inter-sentential CS: – switching between sentences where an entire sentence is in a different language from another in the same conversation.
  • Intra-sentential CS: – switching languages from a single word or morpheme within a given clause.

Plan of Study

The first chapter deals with the general introduction which enables the reader to know what the research is all about. This include the general introduction to the research topic, statement of the research problem, specific objectives of the research, main objectives of the research, research questions, scope and limitations of the study, justification and definition of terms. The second chapter reviews related works done by others that are related to the field of the study. It include general introduction to code-switching, definition of ‘code’ and code-switching, definitional issues relating to code-switching, patterns of code-switching, significance of code-switching, multilingual and bilingual code-switching and motivations for code-switching. Chapter Three describes the research methods that were applied in collecting the data and how the data has been analyzed.

In Chapter Four, the results obtained from the data collected are analyzed. These include the graphical presentations of the recorded data and the statistical presentation of the questionnaires distributed at ABC FM/AM Yola, Puulaku FM Yola and with the AUN community. Further, the research findings are also stated. Finally, Chapter Five concludes the whole research work.

Chapter Two Review of Related Literature


Code-switching is now becoming a common part of speakers’ daily conversations in every multilingual and bilingual society. The frequent practice of code-switching is obvious among speakers within the informal setting of a society. Nevertheless, to study code-switching, it is necessary to understand the linguistic and social factors that influence it; to do this properly, it is necessary to review the concepts and terminologies that are used in studying code-switching. This research is motivated by Myers-Scotton’s (1993) theory of code-switching. Just as Myers presents evidences from Africa on social motivations of code-switching, this work will therefore use her ideas and develop its own research aims and objectives to present the factors that trigger switching from Fulfulde to English language.


Different scholars have explained the term ‘code’ in so many ways. Code is basically a combination of symbols that are put together to form a single word, which is later used to make unified utterances for the purpose of passing across effective communication and information in a society. Aharanwa (2013) explained ‘code’ from a linguistic point of view as a “language” (p.217). This is because every language has its own linguistic signal which is an essential element for communication.

According to Wardhaugh (2006), the term ‘code’ is a borrowed word from information technology. It is basically a combination of alphanumeric symbols which enables computer users to send command. Information Technology experts, or rather programmers, create codes for so many purposes such as hiding secrets, sending commands, protecting their systems from hackers,

etc. Wardhaugh further explained that language or language varieties can simply be referred to as a “code.” (p.87). Similarly, many scholars shared the idea that a ‘code’ is used in place for language (Berlo, 1960; Richard, Platt and Weber, 1985)