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Query Details

Query Subject:   Code-switching: matrix language
Author:   Sophie Alby
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Discourse Analysis
Language Family:  Carib

Query:   I am presently doing some doctoral work on french-kali'na (an amerindian
language spoken in French Guiana - Carib family) code-switching.

I am having trouble with the question of the 'base language' of the
sentences where I have occurences of code-mixing.
Ellen F. Prince and Susan Pintzuk (Bilingual Code-Switching and the
Open/Closed Class Distinction - University of Pennsylvania - January 1984)
states that :
''Following Joshi 1983 and others, we used the tensed verb of each tensed S
to determine the matrix language of that S''.
But then how can I find the matrix language within the following examples :

1) il y a owi 飯le
exist. det. N
'' il y a une 飯le ''
''there is a school'' (on the drawing that the child is describing)

2) ࠣ?owi cocotier man
prep. det. N 3?p.-괲e
a tree it/there is
'' il y a un cocotier ࠣ?''
''there is a tree next to something'' (on the drawing that the child is

Obviously, the matrix language in 1) is french and in 2) is kali'na. But how
can this constatation fit with the hypothesis stating that we can determine
the matrix language by using the tensed verb as there are no tensed verbs in
these two sentences ?

And how could I determine the matrix language of this last example :

3) il ya trois cocotiers man
exist. num. N 3?p.-괲e
there is three tree it/there is
'' il y a trois cocotiers ''

Is there a general definition of matrix language that would fit for tensed S
and for other types of sentences ?

Please reply to me on :
I will send a summary on the LinguistList.
Sophie ALBY.
LL Issue: 10.1759
Date posted: 19-Nov-1999


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