Structural relations and Finnish-English code switching




Halmari, Helena

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While several initially convincing code-switching theories have been proposed, the introduction of a new pair of code-switched languages often seems to present puzzles to the earlier proposed constraints. In this paper I will present data from Finnish-English code switching, attempting to explain the constraints on intrasentential switches in this language, which relies heavily on inflectional morphology. I will suggest that, despite the fact that many of the earlier proposed code-switching constraints seem to fail to explain the Finnish-English data, no special new code-switching theory is needed to account for the Finnish-English facts, but the general syntactic principle of government can account for the constraints on intra- sentential switching. The most characteristic feature of Finnish-English code switching is morphological assimilation to Finnish. This can be explained by the government constraint: insertion of lexical items to terminal nodes from English is always possible, provided that case and agreement morphology are in Finnish when in government relation with Finnish elements. This paper thus gives support to the basic idea of the government constraint proposed by Di Sciullo et al. (1986) and suggests a minor reformulation to their theory. The paper also provides independent evidence for the decomposed Finnish IP-structure (Mitchell 1991).


Article originally published in Linguistics in 1993


code switching, intrasentential switches, morphology, bilingual


Halmari, Helena. 1993. Structural relations and Finnish-English bilingual code-switching. Linguistics 31.6. 1043–1068.