Mixing things up: How blocking and mixing affect the processing of codemixed sentences

Michael A. Johns, Jorge R. Valdés Kroff, Paola E. Dussias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Aims and objectives/purpose/research questions: The goal of this study is to determine if the way in which codemixed sentences are presented during experimental lab sessions affects the way they are processed, and how experimental design approximates (or not) patterns of language use in bilingual populations. Design/methodology/approach: An eye-tracking study was conducted comparing reading times on codemixed and unilingual Spanish sentences across two modes of presentation: (a) a blocked mode, where one block contained unilingual Spanish sentences and another one contained codemixed sentences; and (b) a mixed mode, where both unilingual and codemixed sentences were mixed together in a randomized fashion. Data and analysis: 20 heritage speakers of Spanish were tested. Four reading measures extracted from the eye-tracking data were subjected to linear mixed-effects regression, with significance determined via backwards likelihood ratio tests, to examine differences across modes of presentation. Findings/conclusions: Codemixes took significantly longer to process in the blocked mode than in the mixed mode. This is in line with corpus data suggesting that intra-sentential codemixing does not occur for long stretches of time and is broken up by unilingual discourse. Originality: While a few studies have hinted at the potential confounds related to the presentation of codemixed or language-switching stimuli, the direct effects of experimental manipulation coupled with insights from sociolinguistic or corpus-based studies have not been tested. Significance/implications: To better understand bilingual codemixing, as well as the cost (or lack thereof) associated with it, lab-based studies of codemixing should take insights from sociolinguistic and corpus-based research. The results of this study suggest that the experience that participants bring into the lab can interact with experimental design and result in unexpected results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-611
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Mixing things up: How blocking and mixing affect the processing of codemixed sentences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this