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    Assumptions behind grammatical approaches to code-switching: when the blueprint is a red herring

    Gardner-Chloros, Penelope and Edwards, Malcolm (2004) Assumptions behind grammatical approaches to code-switching: when the blueprint is a red herring. Transactions of the Philological Society 102 (1), pp. 103-129. ISSN 0079-1636.


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    Many of the so-called ‘grammars’ of code-switching are based on various underlying assumptions, e.g. that informal speech can be adequately or appropriately described in terms of ‘‘grammar’’; that deep, rather than surface, structures are involved in code-switching; that one ‘language’ is the ‘base’ or ‘matrix’; and that constraints derived from existing data are universal and predictive. We question these assumptions on several grounds. First, ‘grammar’ is arguably distinct from the processes driving speech production. Second, the role of grammar is mediated by the variable, poly-idiolectal repertoires of bilingual speakers. Third, in many instances of CS the notion of a ‘base’ system is either irrelevant, or fails to explain the facts. Fourth, sociolinguistic factors frequently override ‘grammatical’ factors, as evidence from the same language pairs in different settings has shown. No principles proposed to date account for all the facts, and it seems unlikely that ‘grammar’, as conventionally conceived, can provide definitive answers. We conclude that rather than seeking universal, predictive grammatical rules, research on CS should focus on the variability of bilingual grammars.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2007
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:29


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