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Academic Paper

Title: English–Afrikaans intrasentential code switching: Testing a feature checking account
Author: Ondene van Dulm
Institution: Stellenbosch University
Linguistic Field: Cognitive Science; Syntax
Subject Language: English
Abstract: The work presented here aims to account for the structure of intrasentential code switching between English and Afrikaans within the framework of feature checking theory, a theory associated with minimalist syntax. Six constructions in which verb position differs between English and Afrikaans were analysed in terms of differences in the strength of particular features associated with functional categories, and the ability of verbs of either language to check these features. Predictions for the well-formedness of code-switched constructions were informed by data elicited from thirty fluently bilingual participants by means of relative judgements of visually-presented code-switched sentences and auditorily-presented code-switched utterances, and a sentence construction task. Findings indicated straightforward support for the predictions for adverb, focalisation, and topicalisation constructions, but less support for embedded that and wh clauses and yes-no questions. Alternative explanations for the latter results are proposed. The work suggests that the same mechanisms and devices proposed to account for monolingual data can also account for code-switching data.


This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 12, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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