Language switching constraints: More than syntax? Data from Media Lengua

John M. Lipski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This study investigates the relationship between intra-sentential codeswitching restrictions after subject pronouns, negative elements, and interrogatives and language-specific syntactic structures. Data are presented from two languages that have non-cognate lexicons but share identical phrase structure and syntactic mechanisms and exactly the same grammatical morphemes except for pronouns, negators, and interrogative words. The languages are the Quichua of Imbabura province, Ecuador and Ecuadorian Media Lengua (ML), consisting of Quichua morphosyntax with Spanish-derived lexical roots. Bilingual participants carried out un-timed acceptability judgment and language-identification tasks and concurrent memory-loaded repetition on utterances in Quichua, ML, and various mixtures of Quichua and ML. The acceptability and classification data show a main effect for category of single-word switches (significant differences for lexical vs. interrogative, negative, and for acceptability, pronoun) and repetition data show significant differences between lexical vs. interrogatives and negators. Third-person pronouns (which require an explicit antecedent) also differ significantly from lexical items. Logical-semantic factors may contribute to code-switching restrictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-746
Number of pages25
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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