Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Code Switching in the Community

Code Switching in the Community

Primary Investigators: Rena Torres Cacoullos and Shana Poplack

Graduate Students: Andrew Fleming, Sonya Trawick, Jessica Vélez Avilés

Our goals are to

1. Construct a database for the scientific investigation of multi-word code-switching (CS), by comprehensively tagging the transcriptions of a corpus of spontaneous bilingual speech, the New Mexico Spanish-English Bilingual (NMSEB) corpus. In the following example, the first instance of CS occurs within the Intonation Unit (IU), from Spanish to English, and the second at the IU boundary, from English to Spanish.

a. porque si no lo hago while it’s in my head,

b. well then,

c. no se hace. [NMSEB 12, 09:47–09:51]

2. Discover the linguistic structural conditions on CS, by identifying the syntactic and prosodic points in the speech stream at which bilinguals prefer to switch between languages. For example, CS is less likely at the boundary between main and complement clause (occurring at a rate of 6% of all main and complement clause sentences, n = 1,136) than preceding an adverbial phrase.

se me hace que they’re better. [NMSEB 06, 29:10–29:11]

3. Investigate cognitive processes involved in CS, by utilizing speech production patterns to assess hypothesized triggers of CS, such as the interlocutor’s language choice. Thus, in three-turn sequences, we ask whether the target turn matches the interlocutor’s, the speaker’s preceding turn, or neither. Alignment and non-alignment make up the same proportion of new turns (16% and 15%), while counter-alignment is somewhat less frequent (10%) (n = 8,059).

Turn 1 Span Molly .. también echaba lumbre,
Span … seguido no?
Fabiola … yeah.
Turn 2 Eng Jake …(1.0) would you have enough wood?
Turn 3 Eng Molly …(0.8) yeah I’m going to have to buy some <@ more @>. [NMSEB 09, 34:14-34:24]
Turn 1 Eng Fabiola I don’t think she lives here,
Turn 2 Span Molly …(1.2) no parece que,
Turn 3 Eng Fabiola .. I haven’t seen her,
Molly [no].
Span Fabiola [ya] hasta se me había olvidado de ella. [NMSEB 09, 27:29-27:35]
Turn 1 Eng Fabiola probably in the office,
Eng … learning the ropes.
Turn 2 Eng Jake .. I haven’t talked to her in a long time,
Eng I don’t know.
Turn 3 Span Fabiola … la mayor de la Minnie quiere ser chota. [NMSEB 09, 41:50-41:54]