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New Mexico Spanish-English Codeswitching

Bienvenidos, Welcome

Gauging convergence on the ground:
Code-switching and priming in the community 

Principal Investigators:

Rene Torres Cacoullos & Catherine E. Travis
Penn State University Australian National University

National Science Foundation
BCS 1019112/1019122 [2010-2013]

peppers.pngDoes bilinguals’ switching between two languages inherently promote grammatical change? Speakers of New Mexican Spanish and English provide a precious window into bilingual speech phenomena, allowing evaluation of any long-term grammatical repercussions of contact. The New Mexico Spanish-English Bilingual corpus is a unique community-based corpus which makes it possible to probe the workings of spontaneous bilingual speech, from the syntactic-prosodic structure of code-switching and nonce loans to cross-language priming.

Does code-switching result in Spanish becoming grammatically similar to English in New Mexico? The convergence hypothesis is tested by a novel on-line measure based on the proximity of speakers’ spontaneous use of multiword sequences of each language. Results to date show that New Mexicans maintain Spanish grammatical patterns, with no adaptation to English, even with proximate code-switching.
Australia Research Council: "New research on bilingualism puts received wisdom on grammatical change to the test"