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Grammatical Theory and Bilingual Codeswitching$
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Jeff MacSwan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027892

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027892.001.0001

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A Minimalist Parsing Model for Codeswitching

A Minimalist Parsing Model for Codeswitching

(p.257) 11 A Minimalist Parsing Model for Codeswitching
Grammatical Theory and Bilingual Codeswitching

Edward P. Stabler

Jeff MacSwan

The MIT Press

A fully lexicalized grammar can represent the knowledge of a multilingual speaker simply by putting lexical items from the various languages together. This conception suggests that multilingualism should be a quite natural state, an idea that fits well with a conception according to which every adjustment in “register” or dialect for context is regarded as a kind of codeswitching (CS). This conception of CS does not invoke any special mechanisms to control the interaction among the languages a learner knows. Nonetheless, some restrictions appear to be needed, since CS does not occur at arbitrary positions in an utterance. Exploring these restrictions, MacSwan (1999, 2014) proposes that the syntactic elements of various languages can mix freely, but the morphophonologies have different properties and cannot be mixed. Hence, CS is possible only at those points in an utterance that would not disrupt morphophonological dependencies. A computational model of language analysis proposed by Stabler (2001), which separates morphophonological and syntactic processing, is explicit and general enough to allow these CS proposals to be realized. This chapter shows such a computational model at work, concluding that (1) when the syntax is lexicalized, so all crosslinguistic variation is due to the lexicon, CS is immediately predicted for mixed utterances; (2) the extent of codeswitching in the syntax is based on the extent to which the categories of the different languages are assimilated, which allows for the influence of learned CS patterns; and (3) morphophonology, based on linear position and ranked constraints, does not allow word-internal CS.

Keywords:   Codeswitching, Parsing, Computational linguistics, Natural language processing

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