Code-switching or lexical borrowing: Numerals in Chasu language of rural Tanzania


  • Rafiki Yohana Sebonde University of Dodoma



Chasu, Code-switching, Lexical borrowing, Ethnic Community Languages


This paper addresses the complexity in distinguishing the forms of code-switching, particularly single lexeme switches, from lexical borrowing through an analysis of the numerical system in Chasu language of Same District in Kilimanjaro Tanzania. The study of language contact in this context was conducted in a multilingual rural community wherein three languages co-exist; that is Chasu the host language, English and Swahili the donor languages. Borrowed and code-switched items are all features of bilingualism which appear to be identical in their initial stage, but with different endings. Despite these distinguishing criteria, it has been difficult to ascertain whether certain forms especially single lexemes from Swahili to Chasu can either be classified as code-switched or lexical borrowings. 



Feagin, C. (2002). Entering the community: Fieldwork. In Chambers J.K., P. Trudgill and N. Schilling-Estes (eds), The Handbook of Language Variation and Change, pp. 423-443. Oxford: Blackwell.

Haugen, E. (1972). The Ecology of Language. Essays by Einar Haugen. California: Stanford University Press.

Lewis, M. P. (ed). (2009). Ethnologue: Languages of the World: 16th edition. Dallas, Tex: SIL. International online version:

Myers-Scotton, C. (1993). Duelling Language: Grammatical Structure in Code- switching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Myer-Scotton, C. (1995). A lexically based model of code switching: In Lesley Milroy and Pieter Muysken (eds), One Speaker- Two Languages: Cross-Disciplinary: Perspective on Code-Switching, (pp 233-256. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Myer-Scotton, C. (2002). Contact Linguistics: Bilingual Encounter and Grammatical Outcomes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Myer-Scotton, C. (2006). Multiple Voices: An Introduction to Bilingualism. Malden: Blackwell.

Poplack, S. (1980). Sometimes I´ll start a sentence in Spanish Y TERMINO EN ESPAÑOL: toward a typology of code- switching. Linguistics. 18:581-618.

Poplack, Sankoff and Miller (1988).The Social Correlates and Linguistic processes of Lexical borrowing and assimilation. Linguistics. 57:1-28.

Poplack, S. et al. (1995). Patterns of Language Mixture: nominal structure in Wolof-French and Fongbe-French bilingual discourse. In Milroy, Lesley and Pieter Muysken (eds), One Speaker-Two languages: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Code Switching, (pp. 199-232). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Poplack, S. (2004). Code-switching. In Ammon, N. Dittmar, K.J. Mattheier & P. Trudgill (eds) Soziolinguistik; International Handbook of the Science of Language,. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Romaine, S. (1995). Bilingualism. (2nd ed.). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Sankoff, D, et. al.(1990). The Case of the Nonce Loan in Tamil. Language Variation and Change. 2:71-101.

Sebonde, R. Y. (2010). A Sociolinguistics Analysis of Variation in a Rural African Community: Chasu of Same District in Tanzania. Unpublished PhD thesis: University of Cape Town.

Sebonde, R.Y. (2012). Code-switching and Social Stratification in a rural Chasu Community in Tanzania. Language Matters. 43(1) 80-96.

Tent, J. (2000). English Lexicography in Fiji. English Today. 6:22-31.

Thomason, S. G. (2001). Language Contact-An Introduction. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.

Vitale, A. J. (1981). Swahili Syntax. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.