Using quantitative measures to investigate the relative roles of languages participating in code-switched utterances.

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Jake and Myers-Scotton define Code-switching (CS) as 'language use that consists of material from two or more language varieties at any level from the discourse to the clause.’(2009:207). They propose that In 'Classic' CS there is always asymmetry between the two (or more) languages participating in CS clauses. According to the Asymmetry Principle (ibid:209) the abstract morphosyntactic frame of the bilingual clause largely, or entirely, comes from one of the languages, named the Matrix Language (ML) while the other participating language is called the Embedded Language (EL) and typically contributes content morphemes. The aim of this study is to use quantitative methods to investigate this Asymmetry Principle in a corpus of child bilingual language. CLAN software (MacWhinney, 2012) was used to output i) frequency word lists ii) vocabulary diversity scores iii) mean word lengths and iv) mean utterance lengths for the code-switched utterances of the two main informants. Correlations were found between the four types of values and the ML/EL asymmetry resulting in the proposal of a schema for the interpretation of such quantitative measures. References MACWHINNEY, B. (2012). The CHILDES Project, Tools for Analyzing Talk – Electronic Edition. Carnegie Mellon University. Available online: . MYERS-SCOTTON, C. & JAKE, J. L. (2009). A universal model of code-switching and bilingual language processing and production. In B. Bullock & J. Toribio. (Eds). The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Code-switching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2013
Event8th LangUE Conference - University of Essex, Colchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Jun 201314 Jun 2013


Conference8th LangUE Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • CLAN
  • corpus linguistics
  • bilingual corpora


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