Code-Switching: Interpretations in Spanish – English Bilingualism




Assistant Professor of Linguistics

Project Summary

Before coming up with this project idea, a great amount of research was done on existing literature about bilingualism, code-switching, and bilinguals’ intuitions on grammaticality. By having the opportunity to read numerous papers across various topics in linguistics, not only on the topics I was interested in, but other lab members’ research projects’ ideas too, I was able to learn more about the field of linguistics in general rather than focusing on just my area of research. Weekly meetings and reading discussions led to a greater involvement of lab members with each others’ projects. Having the opportunity to both give and receive feedback on our projects’ progress proved to be beneficial in producing our own projects. Furthermore, by running a language-learning experiment in the lab during the summer, I was able to learn more about how some experiments worked across various computers at the same time, and keeping track of lab participants’ data once they were done with their trials. By having a hands-on research experience, I was able to cooperate with other lab members on various research projects, and brainstorm ideas of my own.

While working at the Cultural Evolution of Language Lab this summer I was able to develop a project involving the intuition of Spanish-English bilinguals’ in code-switching. The goal of this research project is to figure out whether all Spanish-English bilinguals coincide in their interpretations about what is “right” from “wrong” in code-switched speech and written sentences, and whether their ideas about code-switching actually match up to what they do when code-switching with others in real-world situations. If so, would this same intuition be true for all lab participants, whether they are monolingual or bilingual? And would code-switching occur in the same manner across various languages, or in this case, a novel language?

Participating in this research project has contributed to my educational experience as I have not only combined previous knowledge across various disciplines from linguistics to computer science, but learned new skills across these disciplines too. For instance, in creating a novel language for my research project I worked alongside another lab member in writing code and figuring out percentages of vowels, consonants, and word types to create words that sounded like an “in-between” Spanish-to-English language. By having lab participants learn this alien language in future trials, and having them code-switch in both written and spoken situations, we will be able to analyze results and see whether their preconceived notions about the grammaticality of code-switching from Spanish-English surveys actually match up to their own code-switched sentences between english and the alien language.