Inter-sentential Code-switching and Language Dominance in Cantonese–English Bilingual Children
Keywords:code-switching, code-mixing, language dominance, Cantonese-English bilingual, bilingual children, MLU
This paper examines the relationship between language dominance and the under-investigated topic of inter-sentential code-switching in Hong Kong Cantonese–English bilingual children. Longitudinal data for six children showing different dominance patterns were analysed. MLU differentials (Yip & Matthews, 2006) were adopted to measure dominance based on five criteria: methodological compatibility, typological comparability, gradient measurement, variance validity, and multifaceted compatibility. Our results showed that bilingual children produced more inter-sentential code-switching in the context of their non-dominant language and less in their dominant-language context. We account for this asymmetry in relation to mechanisms of inhibitory control (Gross & Kaushanskaya, 2015). Further, we propose that intrasentential and inter-sentential code-switching each have a different status in bilingual children’s developing grammar, underlining the methodological importance of separating the two constructs in future investigations. We also suggest that, in societies where intra-sentential code-switching is a social norm, inter-sentential code-switching could serve as signs of early bilinguals’ dominance status.
Bedore, L. M., Peña, E. D., Summers, C. L., Boerger, K. M., Resendiz, M. D., Greene, K., Bohman, T.M., & Gillam, R. B. (2012). The measure matters: Language dominance profiles across measures in Spanish–English bilingual children. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 15(3), 616–9.
Bernardini, P., & Schlyter, S. (2004). Growing syntactic structure and code-mixing in the weaker language: The Ivy Hypothesis. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 7(1), 4–-69.
Birdsong, D. (2015). Dominance in bilingualism: Foundations of measurement, with insights from the study of handedness. In J. Treffers-Daller & C. Silva-Corvalán (Eds.), Language dominance in bilinguals: Issues of measurement and operationalization (pp. 235–65). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cantone, K. F. (2007). Code-switching in bilingual children. Dordrecht: Springer.
Cantone, K. F., Mu?ller, N., Schmitz, K., & Kupisch, T. (2008). Rethinking language dominance. Linguistische Berichte, 215, 307–43.
Comeau, L., Genesee, F., & Lapaquette, L. (2003). The modeling hypothesis and child bilingual codemixing. International Journal of Bilingualism, 7(2), 113–26.
De Houwer, A., & Bornstein, M. H. (2015). Balance patterns in early bilingual acquisition: A longitudinal study of word comprehension and production. In J. Treffers-Daller & C. Silva-Corvalán (Eds.), Language dominance in bilinguals: Issues of measurement and operationalization (pp. 134–55). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Deuchar, M., & Muntz, R. (2003). Factors accounting for code-mixing in an early developing bilingual. In N. Müller (Ed.), (In)vulnerable domains in multilingualism (pp. 161–90). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Flege, J. E., MacKay, I. R., & Piske, T. (2002). Assessing bilingual dominance. Applied Psycholinguistics, 23(4), 567–98.
Genesee, F., Boivin, I., & Nicoladis, E. (1996). Talking with strangers: A study of bilingual children’s communicative competence. Applied Psycholinguistics, 17(4), 427–42.
Genesee, F., Nicoladis, E., & Paradis, J. (1995). Language differentiation in early bilingual development. Journal of Child Language, 22(3), 611–31.
Genesee, F., Paradis, J., & Crago, M. B. (2004). Dual language development and disorders: A handbook on bilingualism and second language learning. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company.
Green, D. W. (1998). Mental control of the bilingual lexico-semantic system. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1(2), 67–81.
Grosjean, F. (2010). Bilingual. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Grosjean, F. (2015). The Complementarity Principle and its impact on processing, acquisition, and dominance. In C. Silva-Corvalán & J. Treffers-Daller (Eds.), Language dominance in bilinguals: Issues of measurement and operationalization (pp. 66–84). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gross, M., & Kaushanskaya, M. (2015). Voluntary language switching in English–Spanish bilingual children. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 27(8), 992–1,013.
Guerra, A. (2008). Sprachdominanz bei bilingualen Kindern mit Deutsch und Französisch, Italienisch oder Spanisch als Erstsprachen. PhD thesis, Bergische Universität Wuppertal.
Jisa, H. (2000). Language mixing in the weak language: Evidence from two children. Journal of Pragmatics, 32, 1,363–86.?
Klee, T., Stokes, S. F., Wong, A. M., Fletcher, P., & Gavin, W. J. (2004). Utterance length and lexical diversity in Cantonese-speaking children with and without specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 47, 1,396–1,410.
Köppe, R. (1996). Language differentiation in bilingual children: The development of grammatical and pragmatic competence. Linguistics, 34(5), 927–54.
La Morgia, F. (2015). Assessing the relationship between input and strength of language development: A study on Italian–English bilingual children. In J. Treffers-Daller & C. Silva-Corvalán (Eds.), Language dominance in bilinguals: Issues of measurement and operationalization (pp. 195–218). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lanza, E. (2004). Language mixing in infant bilingualism: A sociolinguistic perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Luk, G., & Bialystok, E. (2013). Bilingualism is not a categorical variable: Interaction between language proficiency and usage. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 25(5), 605–21.
MacWhinney, B. (2000). The CHILDES project: Tools for analysing talk. Third Edition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Petersen, J. (1988). Word-internal code-switching constraints in a bilingual child’s grammar. Linguistics, 26, 479–93.
Poeste, M., & Müller, N. (2020, in press). Code-mixing in trilingual children: Domains and dimensions of language dominance. In C. Gabriel, A. Pešková, & M. Selig (Eds.), Contact, variation and change in Romance and beyond. Studienreihe Romania (pp. 303–22). Berlin: Erich Schmidt.
Poeste, M., Müller, N., & Arnaus Gil, L. (2019). Code-mixing and language dominance: Bilingual, trilingual and multilingual children compared. International Journal of Multilingualism, 1–33.
Scarborough, H. S., Rescorla, L., Tager-Flusberg, H., Fowler, A. E., & Sudhalter, V. (1991). The relation of utterance length to grammatical complexity in normal and language-disordered groups. Applied Psycholinguistics, 12(1), 23–46.
Schmeißer, A., Eichler, N., Arnaus Gil, L., & Müller, N. (2016a). Mélanges interpropositionnels chez les enfants bilingues franco-allemands. Language, Interaction and Acquisition, 7(2), 238–74.
Schmeißer, A., Hager, M., Arnaus Gil, L., Jansen, V., Geveler, J., Eichler, N., Patuto, M., & Mu?ller, N. (2016b). Related but different: The two concepts of language dominance and language proficiency. In C. Silva-Corvalán & J. Treffers-Daller (Eds.), Language dominance in bilinguals: Issues of operationalization and measurement (pp. 36–65). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sivakumar, A., Mu?ller, N., & Arnaus Gil, L. (2020, in press). Acquiring three languages from birth: It does matter. In P. Guijarro Fuentes & C. Suarez (Eds.), New trends in language acquisition within the generative perspective. Springer.
Solís-Barroso, C., & Stefanich, S. (2019). Measuring language dominance in early Spanish/English bilinguals. Languages, 4(3), 62.
Treffers-Daller, J. (2015). The construct of language dominance, its operationalization and measurement. In J. Treffers-Daller & C. Silva-Corvalán (Eds.), Language dominance in bilinguals: Issues of measurement and operationalization (pp. 235–65). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Treffers-Daller, J. (2019). What defines language dominance in bilinguals? Annual Review of Linguistics, 5, 375–93.
Unsworth, S. (2015). Amount of exposure as a proxy for dominance in bilingual language acquisition. In J. Treffers-Daller & C. Silva-Corvalán (Eds.), Language dominance in bilinguals: Issues of measurement and operationalization (pp. 156–73). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Unsworth, S., Chondrogianni, V., & Skarabela, B. (2018). Experiential measures can be used as a proxy for language dominance in bilingual language acquisition research. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1,809. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01809
Yip, V., & Matthews, S. (2000). Syntactic transfer in a Cantonese–English bilingual child. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 3(3), 193–208.
Yip, V., & Matthews, S. (2006). Assessing language dominance in bilingual acquisition: A case for mean length utterance differentials. Language Assessment Quarterly: An International Journal, 3(2), 97–116.
Yip, V., & Matthews, S. (2007). The bilingual child: Early development and language contact. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Yip, V., & Matthews, S. (2013). Language dominance and wh-interrogatives in Cantonese–English bilingual development: MLU differentials show what? Presented at the International Symposium on Bilingualism, Singapore.
Yip, V., & Matthews, S. (2016). Code-mixing and mixed verbs in Cantonese–English bilingual children: Input and innovation. Languages, 1(1), 4.
Yiu, S.E. (2005). Language mixing and grammatical development in a Cantonese–English balanced bilingual child in Hong Kong. Unpublished MPhil. thesis, University of Hong Kong.
Yow, W. Q., Tan, J. S., & Flynn, S. (2018). Code-switching as a marker of linguistic competence in bilingual children. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 21(5), 1,075–90.
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.