Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number3  September                                  Pp.  260- 275

Full Paper PDF


The Functions of Code-switching in the Interaction of the Cartoon Characters in
Dora the Explorer

Majedah Abdullah Alaiyed
Department of English Language and Translation
College of Sciences and Arts in Arrass
Qassim University, Saudi Arabia



This paper investigates code-switching from Standard Arabic into English in six episodes of the TV cartoon series Dora the Explorer. The significance of this study is that it will provide an in-depth understanding of the strategies and structures of code-switching used to address children in order to teach them English. The study addresses two research questions: 1) What are the patterns of code-switching found in the interaction of the cartoon characters in Dora the Explorer? 2) What is the function of code-switching in each pattern? Quantitative analysis was used to analyze the frequency of each pattern of code-switching, while qualitative analysis was used to determine the functions of code-switching. The results show several patterns of code-switching into English: code-switching from Arabic to English without translation; Arabic lexical items followed by an English translation; English lexical items followed by an Arabic translation; translation from Arabic into English in two turns; and metadiscursive code-switching. English lexical items are introduced through code-switching in each episode. English words without translation account for the highest percentage of code-switching. In the code-switching to English, some English units are permanent, while some are context units that depend on the episode topic: these include basic formulaic and non-formulaic expressions. Lexical items for greeting, appreciation, and evaluation are the most frequent pragmatic functions of code-switching. Further research is recommended on code-switching in other TV animated series in other languages to determine the patterns of code-switching and the part of speech that is the focus of switching.
Keywords: Arabic, Cartoons, Code-switching, Dora the Explorer, English, Formulaic, Non-formulaic

Cite as:   Alaiyed, M. A. (2020). The Functions of Code-switching in the Interaction of the Cartoon Characters in Dora the Explorer. Arab World English Journal11 (3) 260- 275.


Auer, P. (1995). The Pragmatics of code-switching: A sequential approach. In L. Milroy, L. & P. Muysken, P. (eds.), One speaker, two languages: Crossdisciplinary perspectives on code-switching, 115-135. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Auer, P. (1998). From code-switching via language mixing to fused lects: Toward a dynamic typology of bilingual speech. Interaction and Linguistic Structures6, 1–26.

Bassiouney, R. (2006). Functions of code-switching in Egypt. Leiden: Brill.

Bassiouney, R. (2009). Arabic sociolinguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Bentahila, A., Davies, E., & Owens, J. (2013). Codeswitching and related issues involving Arabic. In J. Owens (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Arabic Linguistics, 336–347. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Blom, J. P., & Gumperz, J.J. (1972). Social meaning in linguistic structures: Codeswitching in Norway. In J.J. Gumperz & D. Hymes (Eds.), Directions in Sociolinguistics, 407–434. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Bokamba, E. (1989). Are there syntactic constraints on code-mixing? World Englishes8(3), 277–292.

Boussofara-Omar, N. (1999). Arabic diglossic switching in Tunisia: Applying Myers-Scotton’s frame model (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas.

Boussofara-Omar, N. (2003). Revisiting Arabic diglossic switching in light of the MLF model and its sub-models: The 4-M model and the abstract level model. Bilingualism: Language & Cognition6(1), 33–46.  DOI:

Clyne, M. (1987). Constraints on code-switching: How universal are they? Linguistics25, 739–764.

Clyne, M. (1991). Community languages: The Australian experience. Sydney: Cambridge University Press.

Clyne, M. (2011). Multilingualism, multiculturalism and integration. In J. Jupp & M. Clyne (Eds.), Multiculturalism and Integration: A Harmonious Relationship. 53–72. Canberra: The Australian National University, ANU E Press.

Cordero, A. D. (1984). The role of translation in second language acquisition. The French Review, 57, 350-55.

Duff, P. (2000). Repetition in foreign language classroom interaction. In J.K. Hall & L. S. Verplaetse (Eds.), The development of second and foreign language learning through classroom interaction. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Eggins, S., & Slade, D. (1997). Analysing casual conversation. London: Cassell Equinox Publishing.

Elbwart, K. (2014). Language choice in children’s animated TV shows (unpublished Master thesis).

Ellis, R. (1997). SLA research and language teaching. Oxford: OUP. F

Gregori-Signes, C., & Alcantud-Diaz, M. (2012). Handy Manny: the pragmatic function of code-switching in the interaction of cartoon characters. In M.D. Garcia-Pastor (Ed.), Teaching English as a Foreign Language: Proposals for the Language Classroom, 61–81. Valencia: Perifèric.

Grosjean, F. (1996). Processing mixed language: Issues, findings, models. In A. de Groot, & J. Kroll (Eds.), Tutorials in Bilingualism: Psycholinguistic Perspectives, 225–254. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Gumperz, J.J. (1982). Discourse strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lawson, S., & Sachdev, I. (2000). Codeswitching in Tunisia: Attitudinal and behavioural dimensions. Journal of Pragmatics32(9), 1343–1361. DOI: 10.1016/S0378-2166(99)00103-4

Mazraani, N. (1997). Aspects of language variation in Arabic political speechmaking. London: Routledge.

McCarthy, M.J. (2010) The festival incident. In D. Nunan, & J. Choi (Eds.), Language and Culture (pp. 140–146). New York and London: Routledge.

Mejdell, G. (2006). Code-switching. In K. Versteegh (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, Vol. I: A–Ed (Vol. I, 259–269). Leiden: Brill.

Mejdell, G. (2012). Diglossia, code switching, style variation, and congruence: Notions for analyzing mixed Arabic. al-´Arabiyya, Journal of The American Association of Teachers of Arabic44–45, s29–39.

Milroy, L., & Muysken, P. (1995). One speaker, two languages: Cross-Disciplinary perspectives on codeswitching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Muysken, P. (2000). Bilingual speech: A typology of code-mixing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Myers-Scotton, C. (1992). Comparing codeswitching and borrowing. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 13(1-2), 19-39.

Myers-Scotton, C. (1993a). Social motivations for code-switching: Evidence from Africa. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Myers-Scotton, C. (1993b). Duelling languages: Grammatical structure in codeswitching. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Myers-Scotton, C. (1996). Code-switching. In F. Coulmas (Ed.), The Handbook of Sociolinguistics, 217-237. Malden, Oxford: Blackwell.

Myers-Scotton, C. (2006). Multiple voices: An introduction to Bilingualism. Malden and London: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Poplack, S. (1993). Variation theory and languages contact. In D. Preston (Ed.), American Dialect Research, 251–286. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Popovic, L. (2001). The place of translation in language teaching. Bridges 5, 3-8.

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

Schmitt, N., & Carter, R. (2004). Formulaic sequences in action: An Introduction. In N. Schmitt (Ed.), Formulaic Sequences, 1–22. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Wray, A. (2002). Formulaic language and the lexicon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wray, A. (2008). Formulaic language: Pushing the boundaries. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Wei, L. (1998). The ‘Why’ and ‘How’ Questions in the analysis of conversational codeswitching. In P. Auer (Ed.), Code-switching in Conversation: Language, Interaction and Identity, 156–176. London: Routledge.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on tumblr
Share on reddit
Share on email
Share on stumbleupon
Share on digg
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on tumblr
Share on digg
Share on email
Share on reddit
Share on stumbleupon
Share on vk

Dr. Majedah Abdullah Alaiyed is Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language
and Translation, College of Sciences and Arts in Arrass at Qassim University, Saudi Arabia. Her
PhD is in Sociolinguistics from Durham University, United Kingdom and her current research
interests focus on sociolinguistics, code-switching, code-mixing, and pragmatics. (ORCID ID: