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You are here: Home / News & Events / Mike Johns (Penn State) - Integration in Code-switching: What is it, How Does it Surface, and Why?

Mike Johns (Penn State) - Integration in Code-switching: What is it, How Does it Surface, and Why?

When Oct 11, 2019
from 09:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Where Moore 127
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Integration in Code-switching: What is it, How Does it Surface, and Why?

 

Two important discoveries in bilingualism research are that 1) the two languages of a bilingual are always active, even when only one language is being attended to, and 2) the two languages of a bilingual influence one another in a bi-directional manner. In other words, the two languages of a bilingual are intimately intertwined. Despite this understanding, the ways in which we view and model the bilingual linguistic system tend to keep the languages distinct, relying on built-in mechanisms to separate them. But just how separate, or not, are the two languages of a bilingual? To examine this question, I present evidence from four studies investigating the processing and production of code-switched speech. These studies show that the processing of code-switched sentences is modulated by both the interaction between long-term linguistic experience and the immediate cognitive demands in which bilinguals find themselves. In production, code-switching appears to serve as a facilitative strategy that bilinguals employ to lessen the general demands of speech planning and production. Taken together, these studies suggest that the bilingual linguistic system is highly plastic and adaptive, changing to meet the demands of the current context. In some cases, a bilingual's two languages may appear separate, such that code-switching appears to be more alternation than integration; nonetheless, under different circumstances, the two languages of a bilingual appear less "two" and more "one" than previously thought. As Grosjean warned nearly forty years ago, there is no Platonic ideal of a bilingual; rather, bilingualism is a complex and holistic experience that shapes the ways bilinguals use and engage with their linguistic surroundings.