Code-switching as Identity Marker: A Sociolinguistic Study of Kurdish EFL University Students


  • Soma Nawzad Abubakr Department of English, College of Languages, University of Sulaimani, Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq
  • Zana M. Hassan Department of English, College of Languages, University of Sulaimani, Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq
  • Bekhal L. Muhedeen Department of English, College of Languages, University of Sulaimani, Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq



Code-mixing, Code-switching, Situational Codeswitching, Identity, Kurdish EFL learners


Being able to know English along with a mother tongue would inevitably lead into code-switching. Whether intentional or unintentional, it is revealing to investigate codeswitching among English EFL learners. This study, however, focuses specifically on the issue of learner’s identity with codeswitching. Language as identity expresser, or even identity maker, is thought to be strongly connected with identity. This study targets Kurdish EFL students at university level to mainly investigate the reason(s) for code-switching between their mother tongue and English as a foreign language. To this end, quantitative data, through a questionnaire, has been collected. The model adopted for designing the questions is based on a well-known theory by Bloom and Gumperz (1972) known as ‘situational codeswitching’. This study hypothesizes that Kurdish EFL learners code switch from English to Kurdish due to the lack of knowledge in English, or they do code switch from Kurdish to English to mark a different identity, which is the major focus of this study. To validate or refute these claims, the data collected for this paper has been qualitatively verified to reach some conclusions.


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