Code Switching in SMS Conversation: The Impact of Nonexistence of Physical and Geographic Setting in Texting


  • MUHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM Government Degree College Gulabad, Dir Lower, KPK
  • Usman Ali Lecturer, Department of English Literature and Linguistics, GC Gulabad, Lower Dir, KP Pakistan.
  • Dr. Qaisar Khan Professor of English, Department of English, University of Malakand, Lower Dir, KP Pakistan.


The rapid changes and development of communication technologies have given birth to new forms, mediums, forums and genres. Code switching (CS) appears as a vital feature of communication held on these mediums as speakers don’t find themselves restricted to a particular locality or code. The various modes of computer-mediated communication (CMC) have blurred the boundaries between spoken and written genres. This study is an attempt to investigate CS in the genre of SMS through Markedness Model. The study focusses the alternation of three codes in SMS genre and verbal communication of 50 university graduates: Pashto, Urdu and English. A corpus of 461 conversational text messages in pairs was obtained by maintaining its cyncronicity, followed by 53 minutes audio-recorded talks of the same subjects. The impact of zero realization of the independent variable of communication (physical and geographic setting) was viewed on other dependent variables including interlocutors’ background knowledge, topic and purpose. Findings show that the nonexistence of physical and geographic setting is a vital feature of SMS conversation that structures conversation in many ways resulting mainly into frequent switching of codes. The study concludes that the Markedness Model is inadequate to theorize CS in the genre of SMS. Finally, the study hints that other newly developed genres of CMC can be investigated with central focus on CS by future research into this area.

keywords: Code switching, geographic setting,

Markedness model, physical setting.