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Code-Switching as a Strategy in Conducting Public Affairs: A Case Study of Rural Namibians

Iina-Marie Aukongo, Talita C Smit


Outapi is a rural town in the northern part of Namibia. Its residents are exposed to a variety of languages. Speakers whose English proficiency is limited, but who are able to communicate in Oshiwambo, use Oshiwambo to communicate. The problem arises when communication is in English, as the majority are English second or third language speakers and thus unable to express themselves very well. This study sought to understand the role of code switching between English and Oshiwambo by Outapi residents and public officials when conducting public affairs in the bank, the clinic and the post office. A qualitative research approach based on a case study research design was applied to determine the pertinence of code switching in the multilingual community. Findings from observations and interviews revealed that code switching facilitated communication in Outapi for speakers to attain their communication goals. Although the study indicated how code switching enriches Oshiwambo in terms of vocabulary, it also indicates a contribution to the language death of local languages.


Matrix language; embedded language; hegemony; multilingualism; local languages; speech community

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