Code-switching as a Bilingual Lexical Strategy

Longxing Wei, Xuexin Liu


Most previous studies of intrasentential Code-switching (CS) (also known as so-called mixed speech) focus on what language items can be switched and how such switched items are configurated at the surface sentence level. Following some theoretical insights and empirical findings of recent psycholinguistic models, this study investigates such a bilingual speech behavior at a rather abstract level by adopting two particular models: the Matrix Language Frame (MLF) Model (Myers-Scotton, 1993b; Myers-Scotton & Jake, 1995), which claims that the two language involved in CS play unequal roles in terms of their respective grammatical and lexical functions, and the Bilingual Lemma Activation (BLA) Model (Wei, 2006, 2020), which claims that lemmas (i.e., abstract entries about a lexeme) are language-specific, language-specific lemmas are in contact in bilingual speech involving CS, and thus the so-called mixed speech is cross-linguistically driven at a lexical level. One of the most important assumptions underlying this study is that bilinguals perform CS as a lexical strategy to make their intended meanings lexical-conceptually and semantic-pragmatically realized. Some typical instances of CS are described and explained at several levels of abstract lexical structure in support of the major claims of the MLF Model and the BLA Model. This study offers an explanation of CS from a particular perspective.

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