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Codeswitching in Mirpuri speaking Pakistani heritage preschool children: Bilingual language acquisition

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Carolyn Letts


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In an environment where bilingual adults codeswitch routinely, children are likely to show codeswitching in their own utterances from an early age. However, child language has rarely been studied from this viewpoint and codeswitching may be viewed negatively by many educators and other professionals involved with bilingual children. This research examines codeswitching recorded during the assessment of two groups of preschool Mirpuri speaking children living in Rochdale, U.K. The children's codeswitched utterances are examined using the Myers-Scotton Matrix Language Frame (MLF) and 4M models. The results show that codeswitching was common. Codeswitched utterances were generally longer than utterances that did not display codeswitching and they conformed to the MLF/4M models. Codeswitched utterances may be the most representative utterances of a bilingual child's expressive potential; only when speaking to a fellow bilingual who accepts codeswitching is the bilingual child able to express him- or herself to this potential. Codeswitched utterances, and not solely L1 or L2 utterances, should therefore form the basis for establishing bilingual norms of bilingual language acquisition for populations where codeswitching is effectively the L1.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pert S, Letts CA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Bilingualism

Year: 2006

Volume: 10

Issue: 3

Pages: 349-374

ISSN (print): 1367-0069

ISSN (electronic): 1756-6878

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/13670069060100030501


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