Talk by Margaret Deuchar (Bangor)

by Jeanette Sakel

On Wednesday the renowned linguist Margaret Deuchar (professor at Bangor University) will join us for our Bristol Centre for Linguistics Seminar. Her talk is entitled Factors favouring the production of bilingual vs. monolingual clauses by Welsh-English bilingual speakers

This will be interesting for students at all level! You’re all invited to join us for this event:

1-2pm in 5E8 on Wednesday, 13.3.2013

This is Margaret’s abstract:

In the thirty years since Poplack’s (1980) groundbreaking results on the factors favouring intrasentential code-switching there has been little exploitation of developments in corpus linguistics to perform automatic analysis on large datasets in the public domain.   I report on the results of an automatic analysis of the Welsh-English corpus Siarad (http://talkbank.org/data/BilingBank/Bangor) collected from 151 speakers and consisting of about half a million words. We aimed to determine whether proficiency in the two languages was as much a factor in our data as in Poplack’s, but also to identify the role of age, gender, the language of education, social network and attitudes to code-switching.  We used an automatic glossing mechanism to extract all the finite bilingual and monolingual clauses in the data and then performed a statistical analysis using ‘R’ to relate social factors to the production of bilingual vs. monolingual clauses. Our results showed that those speakers who had acquired Welsh and English simultaneously from an early age produced more bilingual clauses (i.e. more intrasentential code-switching) than those who had acquired one language later than the other.  Age was also a factor in that younger speakers (who additionally reported a higher self-assessed proficiency in English) were more likely to code-switch.  Gender was not an influential factor.  Speakers who reported speaking both Welsh and English to their primary contacts were more likely to code-switch than those who reported using only one language in their social network. Finally, those who reported avoiding code-switching were generally found to use fewer bilingual clauses than those who did not think it important to keep the languages separate.

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