English alongside the mother tongue - code switching

The questions in this section aimed at examining the respondents’ attitudes towards mixing their mother tongue with English, (i.e. code switching) and at mapping how often and in what kinds of situations they themselves mix their mother tongue and English in speech and in writing.

In public discussions about the impact of English on Finnish, for example, code switching is often depicted as having a detrimental effect on the Finnish language: for us it was therefore an interesting task to find out whether or not our respondents agreed with this negative view.

As far their attitudes to code switching were concerned, it seems that the respondents had more positive than negative attitudes: over half (57 %) regarded it as a positive phenomenon while only a third had a negative attitude towards it.

Survey_attitudes to code switching

Attitudes to Finnish-English code switching.


In general, code switching was significantly more common when speaking than when writing. When speaking, code switching was the most common with friends (93 %).

Survey-code switching persons

The persons with whom the respondents code switch


On the basis of this survey it seems that when Finns code switch they typically do not even notice that they do it: as many as 76 % of the respondents replied that they do it unconsciously in spoken communication, whereas in writing the corresponding figure was 48 %. Quite a few respondents had also indicated that they code switch because they will not be understood otherwise (11 % when speaking and 5 % when writing).

Survey_code switching reasons

The reasons why the respondents code switch when speaking and writing.