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Linguistic constraints on intrasentential code-switching: A study of Spanish/Hebrew bilingualism*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 December 2008

Susan Berk-Seligson
Affiliation:
Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures, University of Pittsburgh

Abstract

In recent years, research has increasingly pointed toward the universality of three linguistic constraints on code-switching: (1) an equivalence of structure constraint, (2) a size-of-constituent constraint, and (3) a free morpheme constraint. The evidence derived from this study challenges the universality of the first two of these constraints, and argues instead that their claim to universality is largely a function of the coincidental relative similarity in the syntactic structure of Spanish and English, the two languages upon which most code-switching studies have been based. The present study breaks out of the Spanish-English mold and draws upon data from a language contact situation in which the two languages are syntactically very different from each other, namely, Spanish and Hebrew. The evidence presented also challenges the frequently made assertion that type of code-switching, namely, intra- versus intersentential code-switching, is correlated with degree of bilingualism of the speaker. Finally, the evidence suggests that intrasentential code-switching ability cannot, as some have argued, universally be considered a measure of bilingualism nor a mark of the balanced bilingual. (Code-switching, Spanish, Hebrew, bilingualism, syntactic constraints)

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1986

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