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This article quantitatively studies the patterns of Tunisian Arabic/French code-switching and the possible implications for contact-induced change in the Tunisian dialect. The purpose is to account for the extent of the occurrence of code-switching across gender lines and levels of education and assess its role in the interference from French into Arabic, both at the lexical and structural levels. Recorded semi-directed sociolinguistic interviews with twelve speakers are examined for type and frequency of code-switching and use of French borrowings.

Results show that education plays a role in distinguishing the group with a higher education from the group with only a high school education. The university-educated group shows a much higher frequency of code-switching that reflects a higher degree of competence in the French language. Gender, on the other hand, does not seem to be a factor in determining the frequency of code-switching. The article also shows that contact between the two languages has led to intensive lexical transfer from French into Tunisian Arabic and some instances of structural imposition that include phonological and morphosyntactic features.


Publisher Acknowledgment:

This is the Publisher’s PDF of the following article made available by De Gruyter © 2011: Sayahi, Lotfi. (2011). Code-switching and language change in Tunisia. International Journal of the Sociology of Language. 2011 (211): 113-133. Available at:



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