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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 lexicon.
> 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 Order: article-noun Switch #2: buy|unas cosas English: buy some things Spanish: comprar unas cosas Order: verb-object "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 Order: possessor-possessed
> 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 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)