Codeswitching in the multilingual mind

Date

2017-12-22

Authors

Hilderman, Dustin

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Abstract

The very existence of intra-word codeswitching—of the type [w ML1 + ML2]; *[eat]eng + [-iendo]Spanish —has long been a point of contention in the language mixing literature (Poplack, 1980; Myers-Scotton, 1992; MacSwan, 2005). However, recent work by Alexiadou et al (2015) and Grimstad, Lohndal & Afarli (2014) has documented a number of empirical examples of such codeswitching in an American community of Heritage Norwegian-English speakers—crucially, in these examples, the lexical elements are English lexical roots and produced using English phonological rules but the suffix (i.e. morphology) attached to the lexical items is syntactically Norwegian—a clear and unambiguous example of intra-word codeswitching. These data will be the focus of investigation into intra-word codeswitching. MacSwan (2005) has argued that intra-word codeswitching is prohibited due to the inability of the human computational system to merge hierarchically ordered phonological systems from two or more languages; a prohibition characterized in his PF Disjunction Theorem. More recently, Alexiadou et al., (2015); Grimstad, Lohndal & Afarli, (2014) have exploited a model of Distributed Morphology to challenge the PF disjunction theorem and the ban on intra-word codeswitching it entails. A central goal of this thesis will be to compare, contrast and evaluate these two models of language mixing. It will be argued that this prohibition of intra-word language mixing may be overcome by appealing to a cognitive processes perspective (Sharwood-Smith & Truscott, 2014). A MOGUL processing prospective (Sharwood-Smith & Truscott, 2014) will be used to build upon previous approaches to language mixing in order to account for intra-word codeswitching. The modular architecture adopted by MOGUL allows for a molecular view of a lexical item; each module (i.e. phonological module, syntax module, conceptual module) produces a representation for a given form which is then interfaced to neighboring modules; the result is a chain of representations (i.e. PS + SS + CS) which constitutes a lexical item. Additionally, MOGUL incorporates several extra-linguistic cognitive mechanisms which play a role in language mixing. Of particular interest are the notions of goals and cognitive context. Following Sharwood-smith & Truscott (2016), goals are the central motivators for speech and action while cognitive context is taken to be the mentally internalized representation of an individual’s current environment (Sharwood-Smith & Truscott, 2014) as well as representing various intentions, perspectives, opinions, etc., an individual has regarding their environment (Van Dijk, 1997). To situate intra-word codeswitching into a MOGUL framework, much of MacSwan’s Minimalist account will be adopted, (i.e. codeswitching is accounted for via the union of grammar X and grammar Y; formally: {Gx ᴜ Gy}) while rejecting the PF Disjunction Theorem and, instead, adopting elements of Distributed Morphology (i.e. late insertion). It will be argued that cognitive context configures various executive control process (i.e. bilingual mode) to allow for the union of phonological systems between Lx and Ly. This analysis builds upon a larger body of language mixing research by synthesizing a Minimalist account of codeswitching with a cognitive processing framework to account for intra-word codeswitching; the MOGUL framework allows for these disparate elements to be synthesized.

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Keywords

codeswitching, code switching, modular processing, language mixing

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