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The simple view of borrowing and code-switching

Treffers-Daller, J. ORCID: (2023) The simple view of borrowing and code-switching. International Journal of Bilingualism. ISSN 1756-6878

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/13670069231168535


Aims and Objectives: In this paper a novel approach to the distinction between borrowing and code-switching is proposed, called the Simple View of borrowing and code-switching. Under this view, listedness is seen as the key condition for classifying words or Multiword Units (MWUs) as borrowings. For MWUs, listedness is operationalised with Mutual Information scores: the higher the MI score of a given set of words, the higher the likelihood it is listed in the lexicon. Under the Simple View, the distinction between borrowing and code-switching is seen as a specific instantiation of the distinction between what belongs in the lexicon (fixed, arbitrary patterns) and what is computed online (productive rules), and should therefore be considered as part of the grammar. Methodology: Assumptions from the Simple View were tested on a corpus of switches of single words and MWUs from a Turkish-German code-switching corpus (87,000 words), which was transcribed in CHAT format. Data and Analysis: The frequency of switches in either direction, and their morphosyntactic integration patterns were analysed with CLAN. The formulaicity of the MWUs was analysed with Mutual Information scores through Sketchengine. Findings: The Mutual Information scores of the donor language MWUs were found to be above 3, which is the cut off point for formulaicity in Corpus Linguistics. Thus, the MWUs were found to be borrowings. In addition, MWUs were found to be more likely to be borrowed than single words. Originality: Insights about formulaic language from Corpus Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition were used to inform analyses of language contact phenomena, and new ways to test the model are proposed. Significance: The Simple View offers a unified approach to borrowing of lexical items and function words, and opens a new avenue for research using neuroscientific methods to test whether items are listed in speakers’ mental lexicons.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Language and Applied Linguistics
ID Code:109681
Uncontrolled Keywords:code-switching, borrowing, mutual information scores, multiword units


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