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Language Production in Trilingual Children: Insights on Code Switching and Code Mixing

Issue: Vol 1 No. 3 (2007)

Journal: Sociolinguistic Studies

Subject Areas: Gender Studies Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/sols.v1i3.483


The present study looked at language switching – both code mixes and code switches as language events which shed light on the "vulnerability" of a language structure. This vulnerability becomes the "trigger" for language switching. An analysis of these switches showed that irrespective of age, input or task, language switching are systematic and regular if the structure is susceptible and permeable. Furthermore, we report on unique data of trilingual code switching and code mixing as features which distinguish between bilingual and multilingual language processing in general and language switching in particular. We conclude that code switches and code mixes in TFLA (trilingual first language acquisition) as well as BFLA (bilingual first language acquisition) are driven by three factors: a) the individual characteristic of the trilingual and his/her language development; b) the impact input may or may not have on such productions; and c) the "susceptibility" of language structures to undergo switches. Yet, what distinguishes switches in trilinguals versus bilinguals is the additional language system involved making the switches more explicable as a universal multilingual processing rather than a language specific multilingual processing.

Author: Anat Stavans, Malka Muchnik

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