Social and Psychological Factors in Language Mixing



Preliminary Remarks

Any unified treatment of the bilingual’s capacity for language use has to account for two fundamental aspects of bilingual linguistic competency: language separation and language integration. It is often observed that bilinguals can switch from one language to another with as much ease and competence as a driver of a stick-shift car changes gear under appropriate conditions. Although this bilingual behavior has been the subject of linguistic investigation for quite some time, general attitudes toward language-mixing have often been based on fundamental misconceptions about these two aspects of bilingual linguistic competency. This chapter focuses on the following four questions concerning bilingual verbal behavior:

  • Is language-mixing or -switching a random phenomenon?
  • If it is not, what motivates bilinguals to mix and alternate two languages?
  • What is the social evaluation of this mixing and alternation?
  • What is the perception of bilinguals themselves about their language mixing?

(The question of the grammar of mixing and switching , as opposed to its motivation, is addressed in MacSwan in this volume, chapter 13.)

Definitions of Code-Mixing and Code-Switching, Borrowing, and Other Related Phenomenon

A distinction has often been made in the research literature between code-switching and code-mixing. We will use these terms as follows:

  • Code-switching: We use ...

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