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ACLC Seminar | Maria del Carmen Parafita Couto: Code-switching across multilingual communities: Uniformity and variability

november 25 @ 4:15 pm - 5:30 pm

Organized by the Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication! (ACLC)

  • Speaker: Maria del Carmen Parafita Couto
  • Location: P.C. Hoofthuis
  • Room: PCH 1.15
  • Title: Code-switching across multilingual communities: Uniformity and variability
  • Abstract: One characteristic of multilingual speakers is that in everyday life they may integrate elements from their languages in the same sentence or discourse, a practice known as code-switching. On the basis of different methods and bilingual populations, various theoretical accounts of code-switching have been developed (Backus 2015,  Toribio 2017, Aboh 2019, López 2020, inter alia). Yet, while theories proliferate, cross-fertilization between them remains limited (Parafita Couto et al. in press). Hence, the question that guides this presentation is: how can we better understand the nature of mixed interactions, with a view to creating more accurate models of (multilingual) language competence?  I will consider code-switching from a comparative, cross-community perspective, taking into account not only the structural properties of the languages involved, but also the profile of the multilingual speaker and the historical and social settings of each multilingual community (cf. Aalberse et al. 2019).  I will show how a multimethod, comparative approach that integrates linguistic, psycholinguistic and social factors (Beatty Martínez et al. 2018) will help us draw a distinction between which code-switching patterns are uniform across communities and language combinations, and which patterns are variable. I will discuss to what extent multilingual speakers (i) produce strings that can be seen as having the same syntactic structure within and across communities, (ii) make the same linguistic judgments, and (iii) converge in their processing of these strings. I will discuss how social factors such as the specific sociocultural norms that have developed over the lifetime of a community, or language prestige, may influence the types of code-switched structures present in a particular community, and provide insight into how communities develop conventions and context-specific linguistic norms which speakers acquire. By presenting results stemming from different data collection mechanisms and language combinations, I will show how a multi-method approach provides a more robust overview of patterns underpinning code-switching behaviour, which will enable us to ultimately build better models of language competence.  I will finish with a call for rapprochement between domains and argue for open access corpora, which are often collected at public expense. The availability of these data will help us further unravel recent theoretical and empirical questions and criticisms being raised about the description and nature of code-switching grammars (e.g. Toribio 2017, 2018;  Parafita Couto et al. in press).


november 25
4:15 pm - 5:30 pm
Evenement Categorie:


P.C. Hoofthuis
Spuistraat 134
Amsterdam, Nederland
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