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Subject: What happens at the boundary of a phonological code-switch?
Question: I want to embed a Japanese word into my English speech, but
I want to be faithful to the Japanese pronunciation, so I enter
a ''Japanese pronunciation mode''. Briefly, I understand this
as an example of code-switching.

For example, the Japanese word for thank you is [aɾiɡatoː]<あ
りがとう>. Now I want to say ''it is {a/an} aɾiɡatoː'', or
alternatively if [koaɾiɡatoː] was the word I would want to say ''it
is {a/an} koaɾiɡatoː''. The assumption is that I am going to be
100% prosodically and segmentally faithful to the embedded
Japanese word. To be precise, let # be the switch point. Then
English phonology imposes upon you the obligation

/a/->[an] / _V

But if you actually say [it is an aɾiɡatoː] (and this seems to be
the observed form) you didn't apply the above rule, but a rule
of the form

/a/->[an] / _#V

This seems contradictory to your intention to code switch; the
intention was for V to be under the sole purchase of
Japanese phonology, but clearly V has participated in a rule
of English phonology. I don't understand why, when under the
assumption of faithful code switching, a foreign import can
alter the host sentence.

Reply: I agree with Prof Sampson that "faithful code switching" in a formal sense is not
something to be worried about. It's fine to use correct Japanese pronunciation, but
there is a lot of variation in how to approach it.

Code switching "in the wild", that is among speakers fluent in the two or more
languages that they are using, is generally spontaneous and can be regarded as sloppy
as in derogatory term "Spanglish". Hence there are very few formal "rules". Do what
makes sense for you.

Many linguists who study code switching often distinguish among several types. In your
example, you are inserting a single word into an otherwise English sentence. Although
you can attempt to pronounce the word in Japanese within the word boundary, as you
have seen, it can impact English morphonology.

That indicates that you are essentially speaking English (the matrix language) and
inserting Japanese lexical items.

Another kind of code switching, more frequent among bilinguals, has switches between
phrases (clauses/prepositional phrases, etc). There the matrix or base language is
much more difficult to determine.

Mixed code switching like this tends to be derided by monolinguals, but it actually
does follow linguistic rules in when it happens. It is a style favored by many bilinguals
in casual conversation and so gives insight into how bilinguals process multiple

Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
Date: 11-Sep-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: What happens at the boundary of a phonological code-switch?    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (11-Sep-2012)
  2. Re: What happens at the boundary of a phonological code-switch?    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (11-Sep-2012)
  3. Re: What happens at the boundary of a phonological code-switch?    James L Fidelholtz     (11-Sep-2012)
  4. Re: What happens at the boundary of a phonological code-switch?    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (13-Sep-2012)

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