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Individual variation in attitudes towards Chinese-English code-switching

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This paper aims to improve our understanding of the social psychology of code-switching by investigating societal attitudes towards two types of Chinese-English code-switching, insertions of English words in Chinese sentences and switching to English at clausal boundaries in Chinese. It examines how subjects’ evaluation of code-switching is influenced by their general language attitudes and language use associated with network exposure. The subjects were recruited from four different cities in mainland China. They participated in an online perception experiment and completed a socio-biographical questionnaire. Quantitative analyses show that clausal switching was rated as the least likable CS mode, but at the same time was considered as having high status as an indication of high English proficiency. Their evaluation was mainly influenced by their general attitudes towards English language and culture. Network exposure also played a marginal role, affecting their judgement of the speaker’s English proficiency.

Corresponding author: Hong Liu, Department of Applied Linguistics, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China, E-mail:


The author would like to thank all the participants who spared the time to fill out the online questionnaire.

  1. Declaration of interest: The author declares no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

  2. Data availability: The data set associated with the paper is available upon request.

Appendix A: The script of the speech samples

CS to English is highlighted in capitals. A free English translation follows the scripts.

Sample 1

zuowan shang shui de zao, suoyi jintian zaosahng qi de ye zao. zaocan chi wan, shijian ye hai chongyu, erqie tianqi hai hen bucuo, wo jiu jueding qi zixingche le.

Sample 2

zuowan shang shui de zao, suoyi jintian zaosahng qi de ye zao. BREAKFAST chi wan, shijian ye hai chongyu, erqie tianqi hai hen NICE, wo jiu jueding CYCLE le.

Sample 3

zuowan shang shui de zao, SO I GOT UP EARLY THIS MORNING. BREAKFAST chi wan, shijian ye hai chongyu, erqie tianqi hai hen NICE, wo jiu jueding CYCLE le.

“I went to bed early last night, so I got up early this morning. There was still time after breakfast, and the weather was quite nice, so I decided to cycle.”

Appendix B: The questions asked of the participants in the perception experiment (Chinese version)


1. 很自大     很谦虚
                 ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
2. 很虚假     很真诚
                 ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
3. 不友好     很友好
                 ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
4. 不可靠     很可靠
                 ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
5. 受教育程度不高     受教育程度很高
                 ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
6. 没有领导能力     具备领导能力
                 ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
7. 英语不好     英语很好
                 ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
8. 您认为录音中的可能从事以下哪类工作, 或者以后有可能从事以下哪类工作?(多选题)
银行行长○           公务员○            健身教练○           销售人员○          私营企业业主○
大学教授○           国企白领○     外企白领○           建筑工人○          记者○
医生○                      律师○               会计○                      个体工商户○   演员○
其他, 请说明______________

Appendix C: The questions asked of the participants in the perception experiment (The English translated version)

The speaker in the recording sounds:

1. arrogant     humble
                    ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
2. False     sincere
                    ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
3. Unfriendly     friendly
                      ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
4. Untrustworthy     trustworthy
                          ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
5. Not well-educated     well-educated
                                ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
6. He has no leadership potential.     He has leadership potential.
                                                      ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
7. He speaks poor English.     He speaks good English.
                                          ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
8. What kind of job(s) do you think the speaker in the recording does, or is likely to do in the future? (Multiple-choice)
Bank president ○            Civil servant ○            Gym instructor ○           Sales person ○           Private enterprise owner ○     Professor ○           State-owned white-collar workers ○        Foreign business white collar ○            Construction worker ○            Accountant ○  Journalist ○            Doctor ○     Lawyer ○            Self-employed ○            Actor ○
Others, please specify ______________
  1. Question 7 is only applicable with the code-switched recordings.


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Published Online: 2021-05-26
Published in Print: 2021-07-27

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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