Code-Switching and Code-Mixing in Malaysia State Election Campaign Tweets

Authors: Farrah Diebaa Rashid Ali, Nur Farah Suhada Mohamad (International Islamic University Malaysia)
Speaker: Farrah Diebaa Rashid Ali
Strand: Text, Context, Entextualization
Session Type: General Session


The use of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram is becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s political discourse. In democratic countries, social media serve as election campaign platforms that enable politicians to have access to their supporters and potential voters. It is also known that politicians employ code-mixing (CM) and code-switching (CS) as strategies to advocate their messages and agenda to people of different linguistic and educational backgrounds (Jarraya, 2013 & Davletbaeva, 2016). Since earlier studies have reported that women code-switch significantly more than men (Bassam, 2017; Ennaji, 2005; Koziol, 2000), this paper aims to look at the use of CS and CM by female politicians who won the 2022 Johor state election by analyzing their tweets during the election campaign period. Out of 382 tweets posted during the election campaign period from 27th February to 12th March 2022, 90 tweets from three female politicians were found to contain code-mix and code-switch. It was found that only Amira Aisya (@_amiraaisya) of Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) code-switched and code-mixed between Malay, English, Mandarin, Tamil and Arabic languages. Marina Ibrahim (@Marina_Ibrahims) of Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Hasrunizah Hassan (@KakAzahOfficial) of Barisan Nasional (BN) on the other hand chose to borrow only a few English and Arabic words in their tweets. Politicians’ age, educational background, demography of the voters and the identity of the political parties they are representing contributed to such findings. This is in line with Holmes’s (2022) conclusion that one’s decision to code-switch and code-mix is highly affected by the participants and topic of discourse and by linguistic constraints faced by the discourse producer.

Keywords: Code-switching, code-mixing, election campaign, twitter