Code-switching and borrowing (was: Language superiority ...)
|From:||John Cowan <cowan@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, October 15, 1998, 19:24|
Tom Wier wrote:
> Robert J. Petry wrote:
> > It's interesting, as an adjunct, to listen to Hispanic
> > speakers here in the southwest. They have a great mixture of English
> > within their speech, and it is interesting to listen to. Especially
> > when hearing them discuss "baisball", "strike one", "first base"
> > etc. And, even ".....good luck., see you later." And, much much more, all intermixed
> > within the "Spanish" language.
I think that these terms are simply borrowing, not code-switching;
the name and terminology of *beisbol* are now part of the Spanish
> This is a well-known phenomenon, code-switching, and occurs in practicallyany community where two
> languages exist side by side spoken natively.
> And Code-switching is a language unto itself: it's not like any Spanish speaker,
> with knowledge of English, can just jump into a sentence and code-switch at
> will, nor could an English speaker do this, mutatis mutandis
The basic meta-syntactic rule, AFAIK, is that code switches can occur
only at points where the two languages align syntactically.
You can code-switch from Spanish to English between a Spanish
article and an English noun, because the order article-noun is
common to both languages, but you cannot normally code-switch
between an adjective and a noun, because English expects
adjective-noun and Spanish expects noun-adjective.
> English: We're going to the store to buy some trendy things for my big brother
> Codeswitching: Vamos a la store to buy unas cosas trendy pa(ra) mi big brother.
> Stan. Span: Vamos a la tienda para comprar unas cosas a la moda para mi
> hermano grande.
This follows the meta-syntactic rule:
Switch #1: la|store
Spanish: la tienda
English: the store
Switch #2: buy|unas cosas
English: buy some things
Spanish: comprar unas cosas
"Trendy" I think is a borrowing, not code-switching, and is functioning
as a Spanish adjective in the Spanish context, despite the lack of
inflection (there are Sp. adjectives that don't show number, no?).
I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.
Switch #3: mi|big brother
Spanish: mi hermano grande
English: my big brother
> Anyways, codeswitching is not some sort of universally recognizeable language
> or anything, nothing like what you've described.
No. But it does have universal features, whatever the underlying languages.
Wolof-French codeswitching shows the same basic meta-syntax.
> This has tended to happen in a very few areas of the world, that is, if you aretalking about
> _English_ an sich; but if you count Creoles, then sure! Of course
> in that case there would be large changes of the language -- to such an extent
> that most people would not consider this the English language. Anyways, no
> standard variety, whatever its form, ever is *that* far from English itself.
What about Indian English? There are differences in phonetics, phonology,
syntax, and lexis from any sort of standard English, yet it is a very widely
spoken --- and even written --- variety of English.
> English, by far, is the language which every semieducated person on the globeis
> scrambling to learn,
> because it is the language which has the most politcal,
> scientific, cultural, economic, and military prestige.
It also has the advantage of not being associated with any particular
nation-state or ethnic group.
ObTrivia: English is an official language in Cameroon, but not in the U.S.
John Cowan http://www.ccil.org/~cowan firstname.lastname@example.org
You tollerday donsk? N. You tolkatiff scowegian? Nn.
You spigotty anglease? Nnn. You phonio saxo? Nnnn.
Clear all so! 'Tis a Jute.... (Finnegans Wake 16.5)