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Re: [code-switching] question

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  • James L. Fidelholtz
    ningHi, Fikre, Unlike many (apparently), I strongly feel that there *is* a difference between borrowing and code-switching, though sometimes it could be a bit
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 15, 2009
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      ningHi, Fikre,

      Unlike many (apparently), I strongly feel that there *is* a difference
      between borrowing and code-switching, though sometimes it could be a bit
      difficult to know which is the case in a particular instance. Both processes
      are engaged in by bilinguals, though in the case of borrowing, sometimes the
      bilingualism is truly minimal, or even incipient. Likewise, while
      monolinguals do not engage in code-switching (because they cannot), they
      decidedly *do* use borrowings, usually quite consciously. I, for example, as
      a monolingual English-speaking child, used the composer's name 'Bach',
      complete with the non-English velar fricative segment (because I had heard
      my parents pronounce it that way). I did not study any German until I went
      off to the university. In short, borrowings are usually individual lexical
      items (occasionally phrases), pronounced usually at first in a special
      'foreign' way that has various specific, definable characteristics (in
      English: with 'European'-type vowels (a e i o u, as in Spanish, say)). the
      borrowings are otherwise used, independently of the control the speaker has
      over the 'donor' language, rather completely within the syntax of the
      receptor language (there need to be various hedges here). Also,
      code-switching *usually* can be described with respect to clauses and other
      rather largeish syntactic constructions, while borrowing, as I said,
      *usually* is a lexical phenomenon, and usually one involving just single
      words. I think most of the people who have made the pronouncements you refer
      to have mostly worked with rather standard types of code-switching (of the
      sort I just mentioned), and have simply tried to assimilate borrowing to the
      code-switching phenomena they were more familiar with. Borrowing is
      essentially an integral intrusion (at first, in most cases) of a foreign
      element into another language (with, of course, some ineluctable changes to
      make them minimally pronounceable in the new language), which over time
      undergo further assimilation*s*, and sometimes end up indistinguishable from
      'native' elements (indeed, occasionally some borrowings fortuitously start
      out that way, because of their segmental makeup), although this can take
      even centuries in some cases. Nevertheless, some cases of foreign elements
      are never completely assimilated and in some cases of massive borrowing over
      time from a single language or group of languages, retain certain
      distinguishing characteristics of the original language (eg, the massive
      number of borrowings from Greek in the academic area, made up of two
      'meaningful' elements [at least in the original Greek] separated by 'o';
      another example is the un-English final stress on many former borrowings,
      especially from French). The sort of tendency seen in borrowings (again,
      independently of the particular speakers' competence in the donor language)
      of assimilation to the L1 is *not* characteristic of code-switching, where,
      phonetically, syntactically and otherwise, the switch tends to be rather
      abrupt and such things are changed instantaneously as the characteristic
      'base position' for speaking each language; especially is this the case
      where the speaker controls both (or all) lanuages natively or near-natively.
      Note that such speakers do *not* have, say, a Spanish accent when they speak
      English (or at least not any more than members of their community that are
      monolingual in English for whatever reason).

      Well, you need to find out what the particular situation is in the community
      you are studying, with respect to how well they control the two languages
      (without your getting confused by prescriptivism), and then describe the
      mechanisms of code-switching that they use. No doubt, some borrowing, maybe
      even in both directions, will be involved, but this should not be very
      difficult to distinguish. I don't mean that there can never be analytical
      difficulties in distinguishing in particular cases to which language a
      particular word or sequence of words belongs, but for the most part it will
      be fairly obvious, despite what I consider the blather about 'mixed
      languages' (and this is a term you should avoid -- again, not because no
      such thing exists, but rather because the *term* has been used too
      frequently where it is inappropriate (eg, because someone speaks fluent
      English, but with a rather heavy Spanish 'accent', or because in 'pocho'
      there is a lot of use of such words as 'troca' instead of the término
      'culto' "camión" (for 'truck' -- this example, of course, refers to Mexico
      and is frequently so characterized by middle-class Mexicans, including some
      linguists; speakers of other varieties of Spanish sometimes consider the
      Mexican use of 'camión' for 'autobús' as well as for 'camión de carga' to be
      such a 'barbarism', or an example of 'mixed language')). Just be sure to
      treat the speakers you study respectfully in this sense, and always assume
      that what they are doing is linguistically coherent, because almost always
      it will be (even we linguists are occasionally incoherent; apropos of which,
      I'll stop here before I exemplify such a case).

      Jim

      On Tue, Jul 7, 2009 at 6:50 AM, Fikre reda <fizela2004@...> wrote:

      >
      >
      > Dear All,
      > Greetings to you. I am still wondering the stand of Poplack and Myers
      > Scotton on the distinction between borrowing and code-switching. The former
      > says "yes it is possible" and sets certain criteria such as phonological,
      > morphological, and syntactic integration, though a number of counter
      > examples were observed. I have difficulty understanding the stand of the
      > latter. Sometimes, she says both borrowing and code-switching follow the
      > same developmental process and hence it is not necessary to try to
      > distinguish them. At other times, Myers Scotton seems to support the
      > possibiltiy of distinguishing them and to cite one example, she considers
      > 'frequency' as the main distinguishing point between the two.
      > So I am really wondering how I can reconcile the stands of the two
      > prominent scholars in the field of CS.
      > I woiuld like to get any insight on this from friends in the group
      > Thank you
      >
      > Fikre Gebrekidan Reda
      > PhD candidate at University of Oslo
      > Dept.of Linguistics and Scandinevian Studies
      > Po.Box-H0202
      > Fax- 47 22857100
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >



      --
      James L. Fidelholtz
      Posgrado en Ciencias del Lenguaje
      Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades
      Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, MÉXICO


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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