Chapter 10

Constraints on code-switching: how universal are they?

MICHAEL CLYNE


1

Introduction

A welcome development of the past few years has been an awakening of interest among theoretical linguists in the potential of bilingual speech for the theory of language. In so doing, they have unwittingly reopened an issue that has interested researchers into bilingualism in the past (such as Haugen, 1953; 1956; 1973; Hasselmo, 1961; 1974; Gilbert, 1969; Shaffer, 1975; Clyne, 1969; 1971; 1980).

It goes without saying that, for the implications for linguistic theory to be valid, the assumptions on code-switching must be correct and verifiable from corpuses from as many bilingual situations as possible. In this chapter, I shall examine some of the claims made about code-switching constraints and their theoretical implications in recent studies by Di Sciullo, Muysken and Singh (1986), Joshi (1985), Klavans (1983), Pfaff (1979), Sankoff and Poplack (1979/81), and Woolford (1983), also taking account of a critical analysis by Romaine (1986) and various other studies. After reviewing some basic issues and assumptions underlying constraints on code-switching, I shall discuss actual constraints proposed in the literature under consideration. I shall then describe a corpus derived from 640 German-English and 200 Dutch-English bilinguals in Australia (Clyne, 1967; 1972a for German; Clyne, 1974 for Dutch) and test the validity of the constraints against this data. Among the points raised for consideration will be the definition of code-switching and its delineation from mixing/ borrowing/interference/transference; the relation between code-switching and syntactic interference/transference; and the significance of triggering (that is, psycholinguistically conditioned code-switching) rather than sociolinguistically conditioned code-switching.

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