The role of unintentional/involuntary codeswitching

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Most research on codeswitching (CS), especially in intrasentential contexts, has focused on fluent bilinguals, implicitly assumed to have enough competence in each language so that CS is voluntary (even if not always carefully planned). There are other forms of bilingual CS that are not consistent with the ability to voluntarily sustain a conversation in a single language. The present study compares fluent and low-fluency Spanish-English switching from bilinguals of varying degrees of competence in Spanish. The study devotes special attention to unintended and apparently involuntary lapses into the L1 involving configurations larger than simple lexical insertions. An analysis reveals qualitative differences between fluent and low-fluency Spanish-English switching, and tentatively suggests that different mechanisms underlie each type of language switching.


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