Mixed NPs in Spanish-English bilingual speech

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Bilinguals speaking with other bilinguals engage in codeswitching (CS). CS is not a priori predictable, yet bilinguals suffer no appreciable costs to communication. One hypothesis explaining this ease is an exposure-driven account whereby speakers converge upon conventional production patterns, which may help guide comprehension. In this study, I quantify and investigate the use of grammatical gender in Spanish-English mixed noun phrases using a bilingual spoken language corpus. Results reveal a robust gender asymmetry where masculine gender is the default gender when switching into an English noun (e.g. un juice ‘themasc juice,’un cookie ‘themasc cookie’). In contrast, feminine-marked switches are infrequent and used with feminine translation equivalents (e.g. una cookie, ‘thefem cookie’). This asymmetry forms testable predictions for how bilinguals use grammatical gender in CS comprehension.


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