Duelling Languages: Grammatical Structure in Codeswitching

By Carol Myers-Scotton | Go to book overview
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4
Regulating Two at Once, I:
The Matrix Language-Frame Model

Preliminaries

This chapter and the following one present my current version of a frame-based model of CS. It is called the Matrix Language-Frame (MLF) model. This name highlights its two crucial aspects: (1) CS is envisioned as taking place within the constraints of a conceptual frame; (2) the frame is largely set by semantic and morphosyntactic procedures dictated by only one of the two (or more) languages participating in CS, the Matrix Language (ML). The other language is called the Embedded Language (EL). In some interactions in some communities, CS may involve more than two languages; while there may be more than one EL in such cases, there is always only one ML.

How the frame of ML+EL constituents is structured is the main topic of this chapter. A detailed treatment is offered of what is called the ML Hypothesis and its two principles, the Morpheme-Order Principle and the System Morpheme Principle. These principles provide structural descriptions of ML+EL constituents. However, this discussion will not be entirely completed until Chapter 5.


The Goals of the MLF Model

The MLF model has two main goals. First, it seeks to predict the form of CS utterances. There are two complementary predictions:

It predicts which utterances containing CS forms will be considered well-formed (and which, therefore, are predicted to be possible occurrences).

It predicts which such utterances are not well-formed and therefore will not occur, unless they are stylistically marked (in order to serve some socio-pragmatic purpose, such as emphasis). Such possibilities are discussed briefly in Chapter 8.

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