Code Switching in Northern Nigeria: A Study of Kannywood Film Industry

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Code Switching in Northern Nigeria: A Study of Kannywood Film Industry

Abstract

This study is an examination of the language use in the northern Nigeria film industry called Kannywood. This work focuses on Hausa-English code-switching in contemporary Kannywood films. The nature of code-switching in the films, as well as reasons for code-switching are all examined. It is noted that code-switching in Kannywood films is mostly influenced by characters’ emotional situation (love or sadness). Only in few cases the characters use the phenomenon to share an identity with a member of their group. The paper also argues that code-switching in Kannywood films is a conscious behavior as opposed to unconscious one in spontaneous conversation.

1.1 Introduction

According to Yusuf (2014:2), Kannywood is the name for the Hausa film industry based in Kano. Due to the cosmopolitan nature of Kano and the fact that most of the production is placed there, in 1999 a journalist working with a Hausa newspaper called Tauraruwa coined a name Kanywood for the industry. Yusuf goes ahead to state that the first commercial Hausa film Turmin Danya (1990, directed by Daudu Galadanci) was produced by Tumbin Giwa Production, Kano. After the successful marketing of the film many people became engaged in film production. Currently it is estimated that over 2000 companies are registered with Kano State Film Makers Association apart from others across Northern Nigeria and Nigeria at large. The language of communication in the film is Hausa. However as a result of contact between the Hausa with the British in 1903 and the use of English as Nigeria’s official language and language of instruction at schools, some of the film actors are bilingual which is reflected in their conversations in films and this has brought about the issue of bilingualism or code-switching in Northern Nigerian films.

Code-switching is broadly studied in linguistics and related fields. Amin (2011:4) notes that linguistic research on code-switching usually focuses on grammatical perspective and sociological point of view. A grammatical approach focuses on the structural aspects of code switching which determine the syntactic or morpho-syntactic constraints on language alternation (e.g. Poplack 2000; Sankoff and Poplack 1981; Joshi1985; Belazi et al. 1994; and Halmari 1997). A sociolinguistic approach is concerned with the role of social factors in the occurrence of code switching, such as context and speakers’ role relationships. (see Bloom and Gumperz 1972; Gumperz 1974; 1982; Myers-Scotton 1993; Rampton 1995; Benson 2000; Milroy & Muyasken 2005 and Danyaro 2011). Sociolinguists define code-switching as “the use of more than one language in the course of a single communicative episode” (Heller 1988:1). Grosjean (1982:147) mentions that “Code-switching is the alternation in the use of two languages (or even more) in the same discourse. The switch can happen within words, clauses, or sentences. However, there is only a switch in the language, not an integration of the word, clause or sentence into the other language.” Gumperz (1982:59) defines it “as the juxtaposition within the same speech exchange of passages of speech belonging to two different grammatical systems or subsystems”.

Sociolinguists define code-switching as “the use of more than one language in the course of a single communicative episode” Heller’s (1988:1). Grosjean (1982:147) mentions that “Code-switching is the alternation in the use of two languages (or even more) in the same discourse. The switch can happen within words, clauses, or sentences. However, there is only a switch in the language, not an integration of the word, clause or sentence into the other language.” Also Auer & Myers-Scotton, who largely disagree on how or why code switching occurs, nonetheless sound quite similar in their definitions of the phenomenon. Auer (1984:1) refers to code-switching as “the alternating use of more than one language,” while Myers-Scotton (1993: vii) mentions that it is “the use of two or more languages in the same conversation.” Then Gumperz (1982:59) defines it “as the juxtaposition within the same speech exchange of passages of speech belonging to two different grammatical systems or subsystems”.

1.2 Reasons for Code-Switching

There are several reasons for Code-Switching. Bilingual speakers switch from one language variety to another for many communicative purposes. But what is important is a close observation of behaviour in particular settings than to generally applicable explanations of linguistic capability. As Gumperz (1982) emphasizes, close analysis of brief spoken exchanges is necessary to identify and describe the function of code-switching. Also Bollinger (1975:257) points out that code-switching may be carried out so as to clear any obstacle that may arise in the course of communication. He further claims that switching is carried out sometimes by a speaker whose deliberate intention is to deceive, disguise or brag to the hearer. In addition, Karen (2003) listed a few possible conditions for code switching as follows: -Lack of one word in either language -Some activities have only been experienced in one of the languages -Some concepts are easier to express in one of the languages -A misunderstanding has to be clarified -One wishes to create a certain communication effect -One continues to speak the language latest used because of the trigger effect -One wants to make a point -One wishes to express group solidarity -One wishes to exclude another person from the dialogue. Similarly, Malik (1994) accounts ten reasons for code-switching   Lack of Facility, Lack of Register, Mood of the Speaker, To emphasize a point, Habitual Experience, Semantic significance, To show identity with a group, To address a different audience, Pragmatic reasons, To attract attention, etc. This aspect discusses code-switching in contemporary Hausa films as an aspect of Northern Nigerian literature and analyzes characters’ dialogues which show how the phenomenon is manifested. The technique of contextual analysis was employed for interpretation of the data with reference to the situation and hero’s status. The nature of code-switching in the films, as well as reasons for code-switching, are all examined.

1.3 Methodology

The data used here was collected from three Kanywood films namely: Khaleesat 1 (2011, directed by Alkali Kamal), Wasila 1 (2010, directed by Nuhu Ali) and Mata da Miji (directed by Saira Aminu). The films differ in terms of directors, production companies, years of production and places of production. Khaleesat 1 tells a story of a couple Ibrahim and Khaleesat. The title is the name of the main female character Khaleesat. Khaleesat is a successful banker and Ibrahim is a school teacher. They live a happy life of mutual understanding, trust and respect. The situation changes when Ibrahim receives some text messages from a stranger that he should be careful about his wife’s activities in the bank and watch her coming home late due to the nature of her work. That leads Ibrahim to suspicious behaviour towards his wife. The audience knows however that the man who sends the text messages to Ibrahim wanted to have affairs with Khaleesat and promises her to open a bank account and deposit a huge amount of money in the bank if she agrees to his proposal, but she rejects it. The suspicion between Ibrahim and Khaleesat leads to their separation. Wasila 1 is a love story about Jamilu a banker and his educated wife Wasila. The film shows that Jamilu has not enough time to stay at home with his wife due to his work. As a result, one day, the wife invited her former boyfriend Muda to their house after the husband left for the office. When Jamilu gets to the office his manager asks him for a file that he had given him to keep. Jamilu left the file at home. So, he returns to take it. When he reaches the house he sees his wife with her former boyfriend in the bedroom, which causes the end of their relationship.

Mata da Miji describes a story of working class couple, Abdur Ra’uf a medical doctor and Maijidda a banker. The film shows that the couple is not able to take care of their son Sudais due to their work. They decide to hire a nanny called Rukayya. Sudais and Rukayya become so intimate like a son and a mother. As a result, the son refuses to get back to his parents, which annoys the father. Abdur Ra’uf suggests to his wife that one of them should give up work in order to take care of their son. The wife refuses to stop working, so he is forced to give up his job to take care of the boy. His resignation does not solve the problem due to the close relation between the son and his nanny. Then the father decides to marry the nanny but his wife opposes the plans. But Dr. Abdur Ra’uf was able to marry the nanny with all oppositions from the wife. After the marriage, the father finally gets his son’s attention and Maijidda is left with guilt and remorse.

1.4 Data Presentation

The data presented here are samples of Hausa-English utterances from the randomly sampled films. English is written in plain, while Hausa is italicized. Each utterance is numbered for easy reference in the discussion. The samples are presented as follows:

(1). Thank you sir. Sai anjima. Khaleesat-manager Thank you sir. See you next time (2). Aliyu kar ke manta ni matar aure ce, idan ka manta na tuna maka. Leave my office now. Khaleesat-Aliyu Aliyu do not forget that I’m married if you forget let me remind you. Leave my office now (3). You are very stupid. Kin yaudare ni Ibrahim-Khaleesat You are very stupid. You have deceived me. (4). Please wait! Duk wadanda suke taimakona babu kamar ki. Manager-Khaleesat Please wait! Among all my assistance there is no one like you (5). Okay zan tafi ofis. Khaleesat-Ibrahim Okay I will leave to office (6). Wasila yi hakuri! I love you. Jamilu-Wasila Wasila be patient! I love you (7). To ai ya kamata ka dauki casual leave. Wasila-Jamilu You suppose to take a casual leave (8). Na ji maganarku amma ina so naga Jamilu. I just missed him. Wasila-Friends   I heard your views but I need to see Jamilu. I just missed him (9). Gaskiya ne corruption is a cancer to us. Jamilu-Manager You are right corruption is a cancer to us. (10). This is an expensive joke. Gaskiya kar ku sake yi mini wannan. Jamilu-Saliha This is an expensive joke. Please do not do it again. (11). Look sweetheart a bar wannan maganar. Jamilu-Wasila Look sweet heart let leave this issue (12). Look! Kar ki tsai da ni sai na dawo. Jamilu-Wasila   Look! Do not delay me, see you later (13). Bari na je ayi mana take away. You spoiled my mood today. Let me go an have a take away for us. You spoiled my mood today. Jamilu-Wasila (14). Na kirawo ka ne don na gaya maka I’m now free. Wasila-Moda I just called to inform you that I’m free now (15). Haba Abdul! Yaron nan is just a small boy. Maijidda-Abdur Ra’uf Oh Abdul! This boy is just a small boy (16). Zaki iya kashe T.V? I want discuss an important issue with you. Abdur Ra’uf- Maijidda Can you switch off the T.V? I want discuss an important issue with you. (17). I’m sorry. Gaskiya ni ba zan iya aji ye aikina ba. Maijidda-Abdur Ra’uf I’m sorry. To be sincere I can not resign from my job. (18). Okay. Ni zan aji ye nawa aikin. Abdur Ra’uf-Maijidda Okay. I will resign from my job. (19). Shakuwar yaron nan da matar nan is too much. Maijidda-Abdur Ra’uf The intimacy between this boy and his nanny is too much. (20). Sai dai ki ce ba ta da aiki but she is educated enough. Abdur Ra’uf- Maijidda You can only say that she is jobless but she is well educated.

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