Social and Psychological Factors in Language Mixing p. 349
• Anyone who is bilingual has to account for two fundamental aspects of bilingual
- Language Separation
• Mixing of 2 languages has been associated with the misconceptions of these two
• This article looks at the social, psychological and perceptual phenomena of the
mixing of two languages.
Code Switching (CS) refers to various linguistic units such as words, phrases,
clauses, and sentences mostly by two grammatical systems.
CS is intersentential (2 diff. languages in the same sentence or one complete
sentence in English, and the second sentence is French). CS may be subject to
discourse principles and involve social or psychological factors.
Code Mixing (CM) refers to the mixing of various linguistic units such as
morphemes, words, modifiers, phrases, clauses, and sentences primarily from two
participating grammatical systems. Intra-sentential and is constrained by
grammatical principles as well as social and psychological factors.
The distinction between the two:
Hatch, a researcher, maintains that there is no sharp distinction between intersential
CS and intra-sentential CM.
Other researchers reject the distinction based on their functions and treat them both as
“situational shifting” Others find it important and useful particularly if the goal is to develop a grammar of
The term code-mixing can be very unclear and also the least-favored designation. This
term can be used to refer to related phenomena such as borrowing, interference,
transfer, or switching. The language mixing/switching is used by authors to cover
both the terms for code mixing and code switching.
The Systematicity of LM/S
The depth, strength, and tacitness of the pragmatic conventions that determine
language choice are illustrated in an incident regarding a sting operation planned by a
US intelligence agency.
- A few years ago, an officer in the US intelligence community needed a translator
(who was bilingual; English + their ethnic language) to interpret what the suspect
was saying. However, because of the implicit practical conventions of LM/S, the
officer distrusted the mole and decided to ask advice to the second author of this
chapter. The officer asked whether the mole’s interpretation of the suspect’s
words were appropriate, and if there were any reasons he should not trust the
• This incident is a perfect example of fundamental misconceptions that
monolinguals have about bilinguals’ verbal behavior and the tacit pragmatic
conventions that guide it. More interestingly, bilinguals do not notice their own
tacit pragmatic convention.
LM/S either is not subject to constraints or equivalently, exhibits only irregular
Labov argues that the mixing of Spanish and English is governed by systematic
rules or constraints.
Now, there is a unanimous consensus that LM/S is systematic but complex. • Imagine a scenario where four participants speak the following;
A: Teochew B: Hokkien C: Cantonese D: Hokkien & Teochew
In addition, they each speak in English.
Here’s their conversation:
D to B: Every day, you know kao taim (Every day, you know at nice o’clock)
D to A: li khi a (You go)
• Another exchange can happen in which language mismatching occurs in the
middle of an interaction and conflict resolution takes place afterwards.
Societies in which language identity ranks highest in the range of identities
accessible to bilinguals in a diverse group setting, linguistic accommodation may
not take place, thus diminishing the incidence of language switching.
- The public language often serves as “they” code and the private langiage as
the “we” code.
- They : creating distance, asserting authority, and expressing objectivity, to
suppressing the tabooness of an interaction.
- We : in-group membership, informality, and intimacy, to emotions.
- Social variables such as class, religion, gender, and age can influence the
pattern of LM/S both qualitatively and quantitatively.
The social cues on code-mixing in Hindi-Persian-English are demonstrated on
- Table 13.2, p.356, the functions of both PERSIAN-HINDI LM/S and
- However, English and Persian do not mix, therefore these two styles are not
compatible. o Situational factors such as shifting personality, thoughts, audience and topic
can futher promote language alternation. This behaviour can be well
exemplified on p. 356 based on the story of of a Tibetan lama.
LM/S is also a function of additional linguistic and pragmatic considerations.
Direct quotations or Reported speech prompts LM/S amongst bilinguals
(1) She doesn’t speak English, so dice que la reganan: “Si se les va olvidar el
idioma a las criaturas”
(2)She does not speak English. So, she says they would scold her: “the
children are surely going to forget their language”.
Reiteration or paraphrasing marks another function of mixing.
The message expressed in one language is either repeated in the other
language literally or with some modification to signify emphasis or
(1)The three old ones spoke nothing but Spanish. No hablaban ingles…”They
didn’t speak English”.
(2) The moment my aunt saw the jacket, she knew that Miss Chen was
dishonest and had fu zhong lin jia (scale and shell in her belly). Message Qualification
Often, mixing takes the form of a qualifying complement or argument as
shown by the disjunctive argument and the adverbial phrase in the following
Uzeymas ti kafe? Oder te?
“Will you take coffee? Or tea?”
-Related to message qualification.
A Japanese-English study shows that the topic introduced in Japanese (formally
marked with wa) and the comment is given in English
e.g. (1) Kore wa she is at home this topic
“As for this (person – referring to a photograph of her daughter), she is at
LM/S is important for hedging (e.g. taboo suppression, de-intensification, or a
vague “sort of” expression). The “they” code is often use for HEDGING such as
the function of taboo suppression. This aspect of LM/S is often deliberate and is
by and large a conscious proces