Grammatical constraints on code-switching Essay

Grammatical restraints on code-switching

The behavior of bilingual and multilingual talkers in a broad assortment of speech communities and a wide scope of societal contexts has been the topic of research since the 1970s. Specific attending has been paid in the literature on bilingualism/multilingualism to the phenomenon of code-switching, one of the consequences of which has been the proposal of and subsequent argument environing a figure of different grammatical attacks to it.

This essay will try to analyze and discourse some of the chief grammatical attacks to code-switching, and travel on to look at the statements advanced to back up ( and undermine ) these.

As Poplack ( 1980 ) references, writers of the early literature – when non concentrating on the sociolinguistic and discourse elements associating to code-switching – concluded that code-switching was a phenomenon that occurred at random. Subsequent research has shown that there are code-switching forms and that shift is, in fact, capable to grammatical regulations ; the argument now is centred on what, precisely, those regulations are.

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The assorted theories put frontward by bookmans in this field of research seek to lucubrate universally-applicable regulations that account for all cases of code-switching in all linguistic communication pairs. As will be seen in this essay, and as is claimed by Gardner-Chloros and Edwards ( 2004 ) and Alvarez-Caccamo ( 1998 ) , none of these theories achieves its purpose.

It is deserving bearing in head that, loosely talking, there are two chief “types” of code-switching: intersentential and intrasentential. The latter is arguably of greater involvement to research workers as “it is merely there that the two grammars are in contact” ( Myers-Scotton and Jake ( 1995 ) ) .

There are several chief grammatical attacks to code-switching which autumn into a figure of wide classs, each of which will be discussed in bend.

Gardner-Chloros and Edwards ( 2004: 3-4 ) argue that any given grammatical attack to code-switching depends on the sense of the word “grammar” . They claim that at least five senses of the term can be identified and, of those five senses, grammatical attacks to code-switching hold focused ( explicitly or otherwise ) on the undermentioned two:

  1. Formal grammar ; and
  2. Chomskyan/Universalist grammar

Poplack ‘s survey of code-switching amongst a sample of bilingual Puerto-Ricans in New York City ( 1980 ) is an empirical trial of two simple restraints that, she claims, are universally applicable: the Equivalence Constraint and the Free Morpheme Constraint.

The Equivalence Constraint dictates that intrasentential switches will merely be made by any bilingual talker ( regardless of the talker ‘s proficiency in his or her L2 ) “at points in discourse where apposition of L1 and L2 elements does non go against a syntactic regulation of either linguistic communication, i.e. at points around which the surface constructions of the two linguistic communications map onto each other” . So a bilingual talker implicitly obeys the syntactic regulations imposed by the several grammars ( which, in this theoretical account, are deemed to portion regulations that apply to the usage of peculiar lexical points or linguistic communication components ) and will merely do a switch from one codification to the other at points where that switch will non go against the regulations of either grammar. Indeed, the rubric of Poplack ‘s paper is a instance in point:

( 1 ) Sometimes I start a sentence in Spanish Y termino en espanol ( “and coating in Spanish” )

Here, the switch is made at a point in the sentence where the Spanish subsidiary clause “y termino en espanol” does non go against the grammatical regulations of English ( which are deemed to put the model for the sentence ) : the verb “terminar” is right inflected ( “termino” – first individual remarkable, present declarative mood ) as the English verb “to finish” would be ( i.e. “I finish” ) had the clause been uttered in the latter linguistic communication – and so, the grammar of the subsidiary clause does non go against any grammatical regulations of Spanish, were the full sentence to be expressed entirely in Spanish.

The Free Morpheme Constraint states that an intrasentential switch may be made by any bilingual talker “provided [ a ] component is non a edge morpheme” . Thus a sentence such as:

( 2 ) And what a tertuliait was, Dios mio!

( And what a assemblage it was, my God! )

is acceptable under the Free Morpheme restraint ( note that idiomatic looks such as Dios mio above are “considered to act like edge morphemes in that they show a strong inclination to be expressed monolingually” ) , unlike a sentence such as:

( 3 ) *Estaba type-ando su ensayo

( She was type-ing her essay )

Subsequent treatment and research have shown that Poplack ‘s Constraints theory is non universally applicable to all linguistic communication braces or all cases of code-switching. It would look that the Constraints theoretical account sits absolutely with Poplack ‘s ain information set drawn from her sample Puerto-Rican address community, and may be appropriate for linguistic communication braces which portion peculiar grammatical, syntactic or lexical characteristics, such that these facilitate switches that so do non go against any grammatical regulations of either of the linguistic communications in contact. Nevertheless, Poplack has continued to support and polish the theoretical account, reasoning that cases of code-switching that violates either or both of the restraints are non code-switches at all, but instead what are termed by Poplack “nonce borrowings” ( a term foremost coined by Weinreich ( 1953 ) ) . These, it is argued, are equivalent to single-word code-switches: words from the L2 are used in an L1-dominant vocalization but have yet to go an constituted portion thereof. Poplack argues that the Free Morpheme restraint is “a effect of the time being adoption hypothesis ( Sankoff et al, 1990 ) ” . However, farther research has yet to the full to confirm the claim of cosmopolitan pertinence of the Constraints theoretical account to all linguistic communication braces and all cases of code-switching.

Other restraints theoretical accounts have besides been put frontward, amongst others, by Pfaff ( 1979 ) in her survey of Spanish-English code-switching and adoption. She argues that there are four chief types of restraints on restraints: functional, structural, semantic and discourse-related. Further restraints have besides been formulated by Woolford ( 1983 ) in her productive theoretical account of code-switching ( once more based on informations from Spanish-English bilinguals ) .

Such restraints theoretical accounts can be contrasted with the far more luxuriant Matrix Language Frame model developed and advocated by Myers-Scotton and her confederates ( 1993 and later refined: 1995, 2000 ) , in which sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics are combined within a grammatical attack to code-switching.

The impression of a base or matrix linguistic communication was non new when the MLF theoretical account was ab initio published by Myers-Scotton. Work by Klavans ( 1985 ) , Joshi ( 1985 ) and others had already posited a “frame” or “matrix” into which elements of the other linguistic communication could be embedded.

The wide lines of the MLF are as follows. Myers-Scotton makes the instance for code-switching to affect a base or matrix linguistic communication ( ML ) , into which pockets of embedded linguistic communication are inserted. The ML, so, is the “unmarked” linguistic communication pick that provides the grammatical construction for the vocalization or discourse, with “islands” of EL inserted at grammatically acceptable points of that vocalization. She distinguishes between different types of morphemes and the function they play in code-switching: the ML supplies the system morphemes ( closed-class points ) in the sentence, while the EL supplies a proportion of the content morphemes ( open-class points ) . There is besides a psycholinguistic dimension to the MLF theoretical account, in that the ML is deemed to be more “activated” than the EL ; it hence lends itself more readily to supplying the frame for code-switching between a bilingual talker ‘s two ( or more ) linguistic communications.

In seeking to specify “matrix language” Myers-Scotton argues that the determination made on the portion of bilingual talkers to do intrasentential switches is “based on societal, psychological and structural factors” . It is these factors that basically form the footing of a definition of the ML. There are two structural standards involved:

§ The ML is the linguistic communication that undertakings the morphosyntactic frame for the CP that shows intrasentential CS. This is operationalised by two rules: the morpheme order rule, which states that the “surface morpheme order ( reflecting surface syntactic dealingss ) will be that of the ML” ; and the system morpheme rule, which states that “all system morphemes that have grammatical dealingss external to their caput component ( i.e. take part in the sentence ‘s thematic function grid ) will come from the ML” .

§ The ML by and large supplies the greater figure of morphemes in intrasentential code-switching.

The sociolinguistic facets of the MLF theoretical account underpin the psycholinguistic 1s: as stated above, the ML is the “unmarked” or expected linguistic communication pick for the exchange between code-switching talkers. It is pointed out, nevertheless, that this is non ever the instance, for case when the talkers do non portion the same first linguistic communication. It is besides argued that the ML can alter over the class of an exchange, in relation to situational alterations for illustration.

The differentiation between content and system morphemes is cardinal to the MLF theoretical account, in that they help to place the ML and EL. Under the MLF theoretical account, content morphemes come chiefly from the EL, with system morphemes coming chiefly from the ML to organize the frame in which code-switching can happen.

There are, nevertheless, troubles in utilizing morphemes to place the ML, peculiarly when a talker ‘s bilingualism is rather balanced. The quantitative standard provinces that the bulk of the morphemes in a code-switched vocalization will come from the ML. However, this raises the issue of sample size – which Myers-Scotton herself concedes is hard to find – and comes up against cases of code-switching by balanced bilingual talkers who use both of their linguistic communications more or less every bit ; the figure of morphemes from each linguistic communication will, hence, be more or less equal, therefore sabotaging the pertinence of the quantitative standard posited in the MLF theoretical account in placing the ML. .

Like the Constraints theoretical account, subsequent research and commentary have led to the MLF theoretical account being refined into its current signifier, the 4-M Model. In this theory, farther differentiations are drawn between classs of system morpheme. Attempts are besides made to decide issues in the original MLF theoretical account, such as dual morphology.

An interesting facet of the MLF theoretical account is that it does non follow the “sentence” as an appropriate unit for the grammatical analysis of code-switching. Myers-Scotton alternatively uses the CP ( complement phrase ) as an analytical unit, which she defines as

a syntactic construction showing the predicate-argument construction of a clause, plus the extra syntactic constructions needed to encode discourse-relevant construction and the logical signifier of that clause. Because CP explicitly assumes that the unit of construction includes COMP ( complementizer ) place, it is a more precise term than either clause or sentence.

For all of its invention and complexness – which sets it in blunt contrast with the simpleness of the Constraints theoretical account discussed above – the MLF theoretical account does non account for all cases of code-switching in all linguistic communication braces, suiting merely with certain linguistic communication braces, and peculiarly with Myers-Scotton ‘s information set drawn from East African linguistic communications and idioms ; every bit good as “cases of really asymmetric bilingualism” where the talkers ‘ proficiency in one or other of the linguistic communications in contact is weaker.

So neither the Constraints theoretical account nor the MFL theoretical account gives a complete grammatical description of code-switching ; alternatively, they each describe a peculiar signifier or category of code-switching into which peculiar linguistic communication braces or signifiers of bilingualism tantrum. A more complete position is hence needed.

Muysken ( 2000 ) proposes a typology of code-mixing ( a term that he favours over “code-switching” , which he militias for mentioning to cases of rapid interchange between linguistic communications in the same discourse ) that attempts to embrace both of the theoretical accounts discussed above, with an extra constituent that he footings “congruent lexicalization” . He argues that there are three chief types of Cesium:

  1. Alternation: this is a signifier of code-switching in which bilingual talkers alternate between their two ( or more ) languages. An illustration of alternational code-mixing is Poplack ‘s Constraints theoretical account.
  2. Interpolation: in this signifier of CS, talkers insert balls of switched components from the L2 into discourse framed in L1. Muysken argues that the MLF theoretical account is an illustration of insertional code-mixing.
  3. Congruous lexicalisation: this is code-mixing between linguistic communication braces that portion close morphological and phonological ties. An illustration of one such linguistic communication brace ( and the corresponding code-switching ) is provided by Clyne ‘s survey of Dutch-English code-switching in Australia ( 1987 ) .

Muysken argues that different linguistic communication braces will suit into one or other of those types. So, instead than suggesting a “one size tantrums all” grammatical attack to code-switching/code-mixing, he acknowledges that code-mixing/code-switching between different linguistic communications braces will expose different features, instead than claiming that all cases of code-mixing/code-switching will suit into a individual changeless theoretical account or theory.

It is interesting to observe that Muysken is besides a advocate of the Chomskyan Government theoretical account of code-switching. In a paper co-authored with Di Sciullo and Singh ( 1986 ) , it is argued that the authorities restraint, whereby there can be no switch in codifications between a governor component and its corresponding governed point, will function to foretell which switches will and will non be acceptable, irrespective of the linguistic communications in contact in a bilingual individual ‘s vocabulary. The theoretical account, nevertheless, does non account for or predict all cases of code-switching ; so, bilingual talkers will code-switch at any point in any given vocalization, Government or no. Even when the range of the theoretical account is restricted to lexical authorities by non-function words ( Muysken 1990 ) , it remains an exaggeration. It must besides be borne in head that this theoretical account will alter as many times as Chomsky ‘s theory of Universal Grammar goes through its assorted transmutations ; in its current embodiment of the Minimalist Program, the impression of Government has been cast aside wholly owing to definitional troubles

Another return on the generativist attack to code-switching is the “null theory” of code-switching. A figure have been put frontward ( Mahootian ( 1993 ) , Chan ( 1999 ) , MacSwan ( 1999, 2000 ) , Woolford ( 1983 ) ) . The basic premiss of the “null theory” attack – whether it is couched in footings of Tree Adjoining Grammar ( Joshi 1985 ) or the Minimalist Program/Principles and Parameters – is that code-switching can be described in footings of grammatical rules relevant to monolingual grammars, without contending extra devices or restraints that are specific to code-switching itself.

This is an attractive statement, but far from obliging. Generativist theoretical accounts are extremely abstract, to the point where they are excessively far removed from the worlds of bilingual address. The implicit in premiss of Chomsky ‘s impression of the monolingual “ideal speaker” is non helpful here, as it leads to generalizations about bilingual talkers that are merely non accurate, as they are non a contemplation of how bilinguals combine their linguistic communications in address. Additionally, the “ungrammatical” nature of address weakens any grammatical theoretical account of code-switching ( see below ) .

There are a figure of grounds why none of these theoretical accounts ( possibly with the exclusion of Muysken ‘s proposed typology of code-mixing ) can account for all cases of CS.

1. Variability: As Gardner-Chloros and Edwards justly point out, this variableness is found between communities, within a individual community, right down to the address of persons and even within the address of a individual person within the same conversation ( 2004: 4 ) . This may be the terminal consequence of – and, at the really least, related to – the idiolectal competency of single talkers.

2. Nature of bilingual address: Bilingual talkers are known to use all sorts of devices and “tricks” to avoid being constricted by the dictates of grammatical regulations. Speakers use intermissions, breaks and other agencies to neutralize any grammatical clumsiness ensuing from exchanging at a peculiar point in the sentence.These devices serve a functional intent in leting talkers to do full usage of both of their linguistic communications, and legalizing combinations from linguistic communications that are typologically different ( e.g. word order ) .

3. Abstract nature of the impression of “grammar” and “sentence” : These are abstractions used by linguists to gestate linguistic communication behavior, in this case amongst bilingual talkers. The issue here is whether such abstractions are relevant to the analysis of CS as seen in bilingual address. The construct of the “sentence” may non be appropriate to the analysis of code-switching in any event: talkers seldom arrant fully-rounded, grammatical sentences in mundane discourse and code-switch at will with apparently small concern for the grammaticality of the ( intersentential or intrasentential ) switches that they make so effortlessly. Furthermore, from a grammatical analysis position, Gardner-Chloros and Edwards argue that even if the sentence were to be accepted as the “upper bound of grammar” and a meaningful unit in the context of code-switching, this would intend that grammatical attacks would merely seek to explicate intrasentential switches whilst excluding intersentential switches and colloquial “moves” ( 2004: 5 ) .

The cardinal inquiry at issue is whether or non a grammatical attack to code-switching is even appropriate. Given the variableness of code-switching and the nature of address in general – and bilingual address more specifically – it seems peculiarly hard to explicate any sort of universally applicable rule or restraint that accurately predicts how, where and when a bilingual talker will exchange codifications, allow entirely whether that switch will “grammatical” . Variability lays at the very bosom of code-switching ; it is a contemplation of a human ability to manage and pull strings linguistic communication in any manner that serves the talker ‘s intent in any given state of affairs and with any given middleman ( s ) .

Another salient point that emerges is whether code-switching is even an discernible fact. Gardner-Chloros ( 1995 ) argues that CS is an “analyst construct” , a merchandise of linguists ‘ conceptualizations of linguistic communication contact and linguistic communication commixture and, as such, non dissociable from borrowing, intervention or pidginisation ( 1995: 86 ) , be it in ideological or practical footings. She besides argues that the abstract construct presently accepted in bilingualism research is “fuzzy” and should in fact be used as a much broader term for a scope of interlingual phenomena in which rigorous alternation between two distinct systems is the exclusion instead than the regulation ( 1995: 68 ) . If that is so the instance, is it possible to get down to explicate a “grammar of code-switching” when there is still uncertainness as to what code-switching really is?

The statements put frontward by Alvarez-Caccamo ( 1998 ) are besides related to the points raised by Gardner-Chloros. In following the development of code-switching as a field of bilingualism research and of applied linguistics as a whole, he distinguishes between lingual assortments and communicative codifications, reasoning that code-switching pertains to the former class and, as such, suggests that “code-switching” is possibly a misnomer. He proposes that the construct of CS in its current signifier be both narrowed to except unrelated phenomena that have come under the streamer of “code-switching” , and broadened to include those elements that have been excluded ( including facets of monolingual address ) . It is hard to see how an across-the-board attack to code-switching can be put frontward until the phenomenon of code-switching has been decently identified ( and presumptively labelled:

“In order to reason convincingly for or against the being of “code-switching constraints” and “code-switching grammars” ( … ) research should foremost convincingly turn out that ( a ) talkers who code-switch possess two ( or more ) identifiable systems or linguistic communications, each with its identifiable grammatical regulations and vocabulary ; and ( B ) “code-switched” address consequences from the predictable interaction between lexical elements and grammatical regulations from these languages.” ( Alvarez-Caccamo ( 1998: 36 ) )

However, the issue here once more lays in the conceptualization of bilingual address. Abstractions used by linguists in analyzing linguistic communication phenomena such as code-switching remove the “human” component reflected in discourse schemes employed by bilingual talkers ( discussed supra ; see below ) .

A farther facet of code-switching, while non purely grammatical, is discussed by Bentahila and Davies ( 1995 ) : the variables related to linguistic communication contact state of affairss, and how those change depending on developments in the contact state of affairss. In a survey of different coevalss of Maroc Arabic-French bilinguals, they examine the relationship between forms of code-switching and forms of linguistic communication contact and the influence of immaterial factors on those forms. They point out that code-switching is affected by the nature of the contact between a peculiar brace of linguistic communications: continuance of contact, for case, and the impact of governmental linguistic communication planning policies. They found that while all the bilingual talkers in their sample address community used the same linguistic communications, their usage of those same linguistic communications depended on their proficiency in both, which in bend depended on their age and the effects of governmental linguistic communication planning and nationalist policies pursued in the post-colonial continuum. It could be argued that germinating forms of code-switching contribute to the variableness of code-switching patterns amongst bilingual talkers and, hence, constitute another ( indirect ) ground why grammatical attacks to code-switching so frequently fall short.

In drumhead, so, a figure of grammatical theoretical accounts of intrasentential code-switching, with each claiming to foretell where in the sentence a bilingual individual will exchange linguistic communications and that such switches will be made in such a manner as non to go against any of the grammatical regulations of either of the linguistic communications in contact. It is contended that, instead than accomplishing that purpose, each theoretical account is specific to the informations sets on which they are based, and can merely truly use to similar linguistic communication braces. They therefore merely describe an facet of a phenomenon that is far more complex than the theoretical accounts would propose. Furthermore, the pertinence of the assorted theoretical accounts besides depends on the “kind” of bilingual concerned and their proficiency in their several linguistic communication braces: the Constraints theoretical account appears to be more relevant to more balanced bilinguals, for case, while the MLF theoretical account seems to be more appropriate to more asymmetric bilinguals. It must be remembered that the theoretical accounts are non in stasis but instead continually refined and amended in relation to developments in their peculiar theoretical background: the Government theoretical account of code-switching, for case, is based on a theory of Universal Grammar that is itself germinating over clip. Muysken ‘s typology of bilingual address ( 2000 ) , which draws on the taking theoretical accounts of code-switching/code-mixing and seeks to account for all cases of code-switching by taking into history the assorted facets involved in this, appears to be the most rounded of the grammatical attacks to the phenomenon, in that it encompasses the disparate facets that have formed the focal point of single theoretical accounts. There is besides the issue of whether code-switching is a phenomenon in its ain right and, if non, what lingual phenomena the construct of code-switching can be deemed to cover. Has the construct become an umbrella term used to depict a figure of different lingual devices employed by bilingual talkers? Or are these elements that are identical from a wider phenomenon?

To reason, it would look that research into and grammatical attacks to code-switching hold lost sight of the fact that code-switching is an abstraction used by linguists to gestate an facet of the behavior of bilingual talkers. After all, “languages do non make things ; people do things, linguistic communications are abstractions from what people do” . Such a conceptualization has led to research workers trying to suit bilingual address behavior to a peculiar theoretical account instead than the other manner around, dismissing facets such as variableness, bilingual discourse schemes and the fact that code-switching is a originative, advanced procedure designed, it would look, about to avoid grammatical restraints wholly. Abstract grammatical theoretical accounts can non reflect the worlds of linguistic communication contact and usage. Not merely that, but code-switching is besides a gage of linguistic communication alteration and displacement ; this being the instance, it is plausible that a grammatical displacement would result, therefore sabotaging a given theoretical account. Factors such as those mentioned by Bentahila and Davies ( 1995 ) must besides hold some sort of impact on grammatical theoretical accounts when these are based on a linguistic communication contact state of affairs which is switching and germinating. A measure back towards the worlds of bilingual communicating and address Acts of the Apostless, combined with an credence of the variableness that they needfully entail – as reflected in the typology proposed by Muysken ( 2000 ) – would represent a more appropriate get downing point for any grammatical attack to code-switching that sets out to be all things to all bilingual talkers.


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