LINGUIST List 24.2883

Mon Jul 15 2013

Review: Sociolinguistics: Bullock & Toribio (2012)

Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons <>

Date: 30-Mar-2013
From: Ilaria Fiorentini <>
Subject: The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Code Switching
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Book announced at

EDITOR: Barbara E. BullockEDITOR: Almeida Jacqueline ToribioTITLE: The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Code SwitchingSERIES TITLE: Cambridge Handbooks in Language and LinguisticsPUBLISHER: Cambridge University PressYEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Ilaria Fiorentini, University of Pavia/Free University of Bolzano-Bozen

SUMMARY“The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Code-switching”, edited by BarbaraBullock and Almeida Jacqueline Toribio, has appeared in paperback three yearsafter the first hardback edition (2009). The book consists of five thematicsections, with 19 chapters.

The editors’ introduction, “Themes in the study of code-switching”, provides abroad overview, starting with an attempt to define code-switching (henceforthCS) which “comprises a broad range of contact phenomena and is difficult tocharacterize definitively” (p. 2); moreover, it has to be distinguished fromother contact phenomena, such as loan translations, calques, mixed languages,and so on. The authors also describe the participants in CS (i.e. differentkinds of bilingual speakers, such as early bilinguals, second languageacquirers, etc.), as well as the motivations and social contexts of CS. Thechapter ends with a survey of different strands in the study of CS, i.e.structural, psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic approaches.

Part I, “Conceptual and methodological considerations in code-switchingresearch”, begins with Marianne Gullberg, Peter Indefrey, and Pieter Muysken’s“Research techniques for the study of code-switching”, a complete overview onthe methods used in the investigation of CS phenomena. According to theauthors, the main methodological problem concerning experimental techniques is“how to study CS without compromising the phenomenon” (p. 21). After a reviewof different techniques, such as the observation of naturalistic data,experimental methods, and neurocognitive methods, the authors propose amulti-task approach, which would “combine multiple methods and collect datafrom the same participants performing a variety of tasks” (p. 37).

In chapter 3, “On the notions of congruence and convergence incode-switching”, Mark Sebba takes into account the title terms as well as thenotion of equivalence, i.e. the terms given to the quality of “‘sameness’ ofgrammatical categories across languages” (p. 41). The author analyzes someequivalences of phrase structure and other grammatical categories which can betreated as congruent across languages (such as gender in French and Arabic),and then looks at the strategies that bilingual speakers use to integratedifferent linguistic systems. Sebba concludes by suggesting that closelinguistic contact may lead to “the emergence of new norms and the gradualconvergence of the language to a new hybrid system” (p. 57).

Chapter 4, Jeanine Treffers-Daller’s “Code-switching and transfer: anexploration of similarities and difference”, deals with the ambiguities interminology about CS, which can often be confused with other phenomena, suchas borrowing. The author then takes into account psycholinguistic approachesto the phenomenon, reporting on some models for speech production which havebeen adapted to bilingual speech production, for instance Levelt’s model(1989). After a comparison between convergence and transfer in language changeand in second language acquisition, Treffers-Daller points out how transfer is“a key concept that needs to form part of any theory of SLA” (p. 72). Inconclusion, the author argues for the need for a unified account of CS andtransfer.

In the last chapter of the first part, “Loan translation versuscode-switching”, Ad Backus and Margreet Dorleijn, after defining the phenomenaunder study (i.e., besides the title terms, lexical borrowing, lexical change,interference/transference and structural borrowing), focus on loantranslation, which they define as “any usage of morphemes in Language A thatis the result of the literal translation of one or more elements in asemantically equivalent expression in Language B” (p. 77), and discuss in whatways it differs from CS. The authors analyze four types of loan translation(involving content morphemes, function morphemes, grammatical morphemes anddiscourse patterns), in order to point out what these processes have incommon.

Part II, “Social aspects of code-switching”, commences with chapter 6,Penelope Gardner-Chloros’ “Sociolinguistic factors in code-switching”, whichpresents a survey of different sociolinguistic studies of and approaches toCS. The author warns against “using sociolinguistic parameters in too direct away as an explanation of CS” (p. 98), but nonetheless points out that CS is a“major sociolinguistic indicator” (p. 113). Gardner-Chloros discusses some keyconcepts of sociolinguistics linked to CS, such as diglossia, variationbetween and within communities, we-code/they-code, gender, etc., withreference to the previous literature, such as Poplack (1988) and Gumperz(1982a, 1982b), showing how CS embodies a wide range of sociolinguisticfactors, which interact or operate simultaneously.

In chapter 7, “The Conversation Analytic model of code-switching”, JosephGafaranga shows how a Conversation Analytic approach can be applied to theresearch on CS, presenting the CA model of CS (Torras and Gafaranga 2002),which corresponds to an organizational explanation of CS. Gafaranga arguesthat the prerequisite for a meaningful CA account of CS should be “the viewthat language choice is a significant aspect of talk organization” (p.125),and therefore language choice should be viewed as a resource as much as anyother aspect of talk organization.

Chapter 8, “Code-switching and the internet”, takes into account a new form ofCS which is not produced in spontaneous speech but in written data, i.e. inCMC (Computer Mediated Communication). Margreet Dorleijn and Jacomine Nortierargue for the usefulness of this kind of data in CS research, pointing outadvantages and disadvantages in the use of three text types (e-mail, real-timechatgroups, forums), and analyze CS on Dutch/Turkish and Dutch/Moroccan Arabicwebsites by minority Moroccan and Turkish communities in the Netherlands.

Ghada Khattab’s contribution, “Phonetic accommodation in children’scode-switching”, which concludes the second part, aims to understand howbilingual children develop the ability to switch for communicative purposes,not only between different languages but also between native and non-nativevarieties. Khattab analyzes the development of sociolinguistic competence inboth monolingual and bilingual settings, discussing data from a sociophoneticstudy (Khattab 2003) of three English/Arabic bilinguals.

Part III, “The structural implications of code-switching”, begins with BarbaraE. Bullock’s “Phonetic reflexes of code-switching”. The author highlights how,in the descriptive and theoretical literature, “the phonetic and phonologicalreflexes of code-switching remain relatively unexplored” (p. 164), anddiscusses the use of phonological integration as a metric for distinguishingborrowing from CS. After an excursus on the laboratory research on thephonetics of CS, the author considers the effects and possible constraintsthat phonological and phonetic structure may place on CS, pointing out thechallenges for future research on the role of phonology and phonetics in CS.

In chapter 11, Brian Hok-Shing Chan analyzes “Code-switching betweentypologically distinct languages”. The chapter starts with an overview ofprevious research on universal constraints on CS (above all, Poplack 1980),differentiating three different conclusions: a) the constraint approach isfutile, b) there are no universal constraints, only specific ones and c) thereare no constraints that operate specifically on CS (p. 185). Then, the authorfocuses on CS between typologically distinct languages, in particular betweenVO and OV languages and between languages with different types of DP. Inconclusion, the author hypothesizes a tendency to select a morpho-syntacticrule from only one language, which would be the result of the balance betweenfunctional principles rather than between formal syntactic constraints.

In chapter 12, “Language mixing in bilingual children: code-switching?”,Natascha Müller and Katja Francesca Cantone take into account code-mixingphenomena in child speech. After a review of the studies on child languagemixing and on structural constraints on CS proposed both for adults and forchildren, the authors present a monolingual approach to children languagemixing, which results from the view that adult CS is constrained by nothingbut the two grammatical systems involved.

David Quinto-Pozos concludes this section with an interesting introduction to“Code-switching between sign languages”. The author presents some previouswork on CS in signed language, which has focused prominently on theinteraction between a signed and a spoken language. Then, Quinto-Pozosanalyzes two types of CS between signed languages, i.e. reiterative CS (theswitching of synonymous signs) and non-reiterative CS, exemplifying them witha corpus composed of data from American Sign Language and Mexican SignLanguage.

Part IV, “Psycholinguistics and code-switching”, begins with Adele W. Miccio,Carol Scheffner Hammer and Bárbara Rodriguez’ “Code-switching and languagedisorders in bilingual children”. The authors aim to provide a betterunderstanding of CS for language pathology professionals, since it can beviewed as evidence of language disorders in bilingual children. They focus onthe pragmatics of code-switching, CS as a measure of proficiency and CS aslanguage choice in children, and then analyze the grammaticality of children’sCS. Finally, they consider in which cases CS can really be treated as evidenceof a language disorder.

In chapter 15, “Code-switching, imperfect acquisition, and attrition”, AgnesBolonyai deals with the popular belief that extensive CS could have a negativeeffect and cause bilingual children to lose their mother tongue. The authorfocuses on two fundamental questions: if CS can be taken as an indicator ofthe bilingual proficiency of the child and if there can be a connectionbetween CS and language deterioration. Then, she examines the sociolinguisticand psycholinguistic factors which could potentially alter both the linguisticprocess and outcomes of language contact phenomena. Finally, Bolonyaidistinguishes “normal” CS produced by fluent bilingual from CS in attrition,investigating the latter’s connections with contact-induced language changeand erosion.

Chapter 16, “Code-switching and the bilingual mental lexicon”, examinesLevelt’s model of speech production (1989) and Myers-Scotton’s Matrix LanguageFrame model (1993), with reference to a corpus of natural conversationsinvolving Chinese-English and Japanese-English CS. The author, Longxing Wei,sketches the main characteristics of both models, and then applies them to hisdata, concluding that the bilingual mental lexicon “contains lemmas ratherthan lexemes from the component languages” (p. 287), and that the bilingualspeech production process contains the same levels as the monolingual.

Chapter 17, “Code-switching and the brain”, focuses on neurocognitivemechanisms of CS. The authors -- Marta Kutas, Eva Moreno, and Nicole Wicha --sketch the differences between the monolingual and bilingual brain, and thendeal with the question of whether two languages in a bilingual brain areprocessed by the same region or by different ones. A number ofelectrophysiological studies of CS are reviewed in the last section.

The last part of the book, “Formal model of code-switching”, consists of twochapters. The first, Jeff MacSwan’s “Generative approaches to code-switching”,gives an overview of generative approaches to CS. An entire section isdedicated to minimalism and to the analysis of CS in the Minimalist Program.The chapter concludes by providing future directions for the field, whichhopefully will lead to “increasingly better theories about the nature ofbilingual language faculty as a reflection of the facts of CS” (p. 335).

Carol Myers-Scotton and Janice Jake’s “A universal model of code-switching andbilingual language processing and production”, provides a summary of the keyfeatures of the Matrix Language Frame (MLF) and 4-M models. The latterdescribes more precisely the morpheme types and recognizes significantdivision between them. The authors argue that the distribution of morphemetypes in CS is compatible “with predictions of the MLF and 4-M models” (p.357), and, therefore, with the Uniform Structure Principle, i.e. thatprinciple that formalizes the notion that both in monolingual and bilingualspeech “well-formedness conditions apply both within and between maximalprojections (i.e. phrases and clauses)” (Myers-Scotton 2005: 18).

EVALUATIONThe present edition of the “Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Code-switching”does not differ from the 2009 edition (reviewed on LinguistList vol. 21.463,see References), except for the paperback format and reduced price. Given thenature of the book, as a resource for students and researchers, it is welcomethat it is now more affordable.

The volume is, in sum, a complete and useful handbook which provides a wideoverview of the issues concerning CS. It has the purpose of providing anup-to-date guide to the comprehension of a widespread and much investigatedphenomenon, addressed from several different perspectives, fromsociolinguistics, to psycholinguistics, to formal models.

The complexity of the topic and the lack of a universal definition of CSnecessarily lead authors to have different visions and to give differentdefinitions; nonetheless, most give sufficient references and overviews ofprevious literature to orientate readers in each area. Most notably,Gardner-Chloros’s chapter on sociolinguistic factors in CS is very clear andwell exemplified; similarly, MacSwan’s contribution on generative approachesprovides a broad summary of the formal literature and theories on the topic.

Another value is the book’s inclusion of innovative research, such as MargreetDorleijn and Jacomine Nortier on CS and Computer Mediated Communication, whichbrings an analysis on the written rather than the oral level, or DavidQuinto-Pozos’ chapter on CS and sign languages.

As noted by Anderson (2010), a small limitation of this handbook is that,although it is intended for a broad audience and not only for experts, somechapters concern very specialized fields of studies and are accessible to amore limited audience; nevertheless, each author provides a number ofreferences, so anyone could approach the topic.

In conclusion, this handbook is an essential read for any student orresearcher interested in code-switching who would like to broaden his or herknowledge about this topic from different perspectives, from the moretraditional to the more innovative ones.

REFERENCESAnderson, Tyler. 2010. Review of Bullock, Barbara and Toribio, AlmeidaJacqueline. 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Code-switching.Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. LinguistList 21.463.

Gumperz, John J. 1982a. Discourse strategies. Cambridge, UK and New York:Cambridge University Press.

Gumperz, John J. 1982b. Language and social identity. Cambridge, UK and NewYork: Cambridge University Press.

Khattab, Ghada. 2003. Sociolinguistic competence and the bilingual’s choice ofphonetic variants: Auditory and instrumental data from English-Arabicbilinguals. PhD dissertation. University of Leeds.

Levelt, Willem J. M. 1989. Speaking: From intention to articulation.Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Myers-Scotton, Carol. 1993. Duelling languages: Grammatical structure incode-switching. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Myers-Scotton, Carol. 2005. Uniform structure: Looking beyond the surface inexplaining codeswitching. Rivista di Linguistica 17. 15-34.

Poplack, Shana. 1980. Sometimes I’ll start a sentence in Spanish y termino enespañol: Towards a typology of code-switching. Linguistics 18(7-8). 581-618.

Poplack, Shana. 1988. Contrasting patterns of code-switching in twocommunities. In Monica Heller (ed.), Code-switching: anthropological andsociolinguistic perspectives. 215-244. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Torras, Maria-Carme and Gafaranga, Joseph. 2002. Social identities andlanguage alternation in non-formal institutional bilingual talk: Trilingualservice encounters in Barcelona. Language in Society 31(4). 527-548.

ABOUT THE REVIEWERAfter earning an M.A. in Linguistics at the University of Turin with a thesison the Italian suffix -ATA, Ilaria Fiorentini is now a PhD student at theUniversity of Pavia and the Free University of Bozen (Italy). Her doctoralresearch deals with the contact situations in the Ladin valleys of TrentinoAlto Adige/Südtirol, with particular attention to code-mixing phenomena amongLadin, Italian and German. Her primary research interests includesociolinguistics and pragmatics.

Page Updated: 15-Jul-2013