Field-testing code-switching constraints: A report on a strategic languages project

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The present article provides an overview of ongoing field-based research that deploys a variety of interactive experimental procedures in three strategically chosen bilingual contact environments, whose language dyads facilitate a partial separation of morphosyntactic factors in order to test the extent to which proposed grammatical constraints on intra-sentential code-switching are independent of language-specific factors. For purposes of illustration, the possibility of language switches between subject pronouns and verbs is compared for the three bilingual groups. The first scenario includes Ecuadoran Quichua and Media Lengua (entirely Quichua syntax and system morphology, all lexical roots replaced by Spanish items; both are null-subject languages). The second juxtaposes Spanish and the Afro-Colombian creole language Palenquero; the languages share highly cognate lexicons but differ substantially in grammatical structures (including null subjects in Spanish, only overt subjects in Palenquero). Spanish and Portuguese in north-eastern Argentina along the Brazilian border form the third focus: lexically and grammatically highly cognate languages that are nonetheless kept distinct by speakers (both null-subject languages, albeit with different usage patterns). Results from the three communities reveal a residual resistance against PRONOUN + VERB switches irrespective of the subject-verb configuration, thereby motivating the application of similar techniques to other proposed grammatical constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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