Sociolinguistic Studies, Vol 6, No 1 (2012)

Grammatical code-switching patterns of early and late Basque-Spanish bilinguals

Hanna Lantto
Issued Date: 31 Dec 2012


This article analyses and compares the grammatical code switching patterns of 22 Basque- Spanish bilinguals. Ten of these are early bilinguals who have learned both of the languages in the natural environment of a bilingual community, and twelve of these are late bilinguals, ‘new Basques’, who have learned Basque as their L2 in a formal setting after the onset of puberty. The data is based on 22 hours of participant-observer recordings made in Basque Country in the years 2005, 2007 and 2011 and contain nearly 1500 examples of code-switching. All the informants are connected to the Bilbao Metropolitan area and were between 20 and 45 years of age at the time of the recordings. Differences between the two speaker groups are clear. Whereas the late bilinguals mainly use extrasentential and conventionalized types of code-switching, the early bilinguals present a variety of patterns. In the latter group, the intra-group differences are wide: some of the informants engage in highly intensive mixing, while others maintain the separation between the linguistic systems. These pattern differences might be attributed to different levels of bilingual language competence, but also to the degree of linguistic confidence of the speaker.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.v6i1.21


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