Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:


Still Needed:


Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington

Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

New from Oxford University Press!


What is English? And Why Should We Care?

By: Tim William Machan

To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.

New from Cambridge University Press!


Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.

Query Details

Query Subject:   Code-switching: matrix language
Author:   Sophie Alby
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Discourse Analysis
Language Family:  Carib

Query:   I am presently doing some doctoral work on french-kali'na (an amerindian
language spoken in French Guiana - Carib family) code-switching.

I am having trouble with the question of the 'base language' of the
sentences where I have occurences of code-mixing.
Ellen F. Prince and Susan Pintzuk (Bilingual Code-Switching and the
Open/Closed Class Distinction - University of Pennsylvania - January 1984)
states that :
''Following Joshi 1983 and others, we used the tensed verb of each tensed S
to determine the matrix language of that S''.
But then how can I find the matrix language within the following examples :

1) il y a owi 飯le
exist. det. N
'' il y a une 飯le ''
''there is a school'' (on the drawing that the child is describing)

2) ࠣ?owi cocotier man
prep. det. N 3?p.-괲e
a tree it/there is
'' il y a un cocotier ࠣ?''
''there is a tree next to something'' (on the drawing that the child is

Obviously, the matrix language in 1) is french and in 2) is kali'na. But how
can this constatation fit with the hypothesis stating that we can determine
the matrix language by using the tensed verb as there are no tensed verbs in
these two sentences ?

And how could I determine the matrix language of this last example :

3) il ya trois cocotiers man
exist. num. N 3?p.-괲e
there is three tree it/there is
'' il y a trois cocotiers ''

Is there a general definition of matrix language that would fit for tensed S
and for other types of sentences ?

Please reply to me on : alby@cayenne.ird.fr
I will send a summary on the LinguistList.
Sophie ALBY.
LL Issue: 10.1759
Date posted: 19-Nov-1999


Sums main page