In sociolinguistics, code-switching (CS), refers to the alternative use by bilinguals of two or more languages in the san1e conversation. This exploratory study aims to investigate the CS phenomenon in Lebanon. It aims to find out the reasons/functions of CS, as well as to know the extent to which the code-switches observe or violate six universal syntactic constraints: the size of the constituent constraint, the conjunction constraint, the adjectival phrase constraint, the free morpheme constraint, the equivalence constraint, and the dual structure principle. The literature on research pe1taining to both aims of the study is reviewed. Moreover, in order to explain the context of the study, an overview of the history and culture, as well as the linguistic and educational backgrounds of Lebanon is provided. A total of six hours of presumably authentic data was recorded from two Lebanese satellite TV charmels. Subjects, talk-show guests, are considered to be educated Lebanese. In order to answer the questions of the study, three bilingual Lebanese male native speakers of Arabic who also speak French and English were assigned two tasks. First, they were asked to classify foreign words in the data to borrowings and code-switches, according to a criterion given. Then, they were asked to consider a reason/function for every code-switch among three choices given, or provide their own. Findings showed that about 62% of the foreign words were code-switches. Men and women code-switched almost equally, although women used more French and less English words than men did. Topics related to medicine, and engineering produced more CS from the speakers. Also, it was found that keeping the foreign term intact was the main function of CS. The reason behind heavy use of CS is traced to the educational system in Lebanon, where all scientific subjects are taught in French or English. Another main ftmction of CS was identified as one of showing off knowledge of the foreign languages. Testing the data against the six universal constraints showed that Constraint 5, the equivalence constraint, is the constraint most suppo11ed by the data, while Constraint 1, the size of the constituent constraint was the one most violated The high frequency of CS in the data could be an indicator of the relatively high proficiency of the subjects in the foreign language(s). Personal preference could also be assumed to affect the number of code-switches used. Six patterns of CS were identified, having different or overlapping reasons/functions. The major functions the raters identified are discussed. A large percentage of counterexamples were found for the first four constraints, while a much lower percentage violated the last two constraints. Although the first four constraints can be claimed to be invalidated, the last two can be modified to account for data from as different language pairs as possible.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


First Advisor

Yehia El Ezabi

Committee Member 1

Yehia El Ezabi

Committee Member 2

Amira Agameya

Committee Member 3

Alaa El Gibali

Document Type



174 leaves

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Code switching (Linguistics)


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Call Number

Thesis 2002/20