Bilingualism in the community: Code-switching and grammars in contact

Rena Torres Cacoullos, Catherine E. Travis

Research output: Book/ReportBook

99 Scopus citations


Does the use of two languages by bilinguals inevitably bring about grammatical change? Does switching between languages serve as a catalyst in such change? It is widely held that linguistic code-switching inherently promotes grammatical convergence - languages becoming more similar to each other through contact; evidence for this, however, remains elusive. A model of how to study language contact scientifically, Bilingualism in the Community highlights variation patterns in speech, using a new bilingual corpus of English and Spanish spontaneously produced by the same speakers. Putting forward quantitative diagnostics of grammatical similarity, it shows how bilinguals' two languages differ from each other, aligning with their respective monolingual benchmarks. The authors argue that grammatical change through contact is far from a foregone conclusion in bilingual communities, where speakers are adept at keeping their languages together, yet separate. The book is compelling reading for anyone interested in bilingualism and its importance in society. Provides a scientific approach to language contact, including replicable analyses of thousands of tokens that allow readers to evaluate claims. Showcases data from a new corpus of spontaneous bilingual speech, setting broadly applicable benchmarks for contact studies, in the community and in the lab. Cuts across linguistic sub-disciplines and embraces cognitive, discourse and social factors to demonstrate grammatical continuity under contact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages240
ISBN (Electronic)9781108235259
ISBN (Print)9781108415828
StatePublished - Mar 8 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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