Monolinguals often assume that this kind of switching happens because speakers are not competent in one of their languages - a sort of deficit hypothesis - or because a concept just can’t be expressed in one of the languages - a sort of lexical gap explanation. Analysis of recorded multilingual speech doesn’t support these ideas, however. Speakers who code-switch the most often are usually those who are the most fluent in both of their languages, and there are linguistic rules about where in a sentence a switch can happen.

Van Herk, What Is Sociolinguistics, chapter 11. (via transliterations)

The Wikipedia article on code-switching has a nice classification of the types and linguistic rules involved: 

  • Intersentential switching occurs outside the sentence or the clause level (i.e. at sentence or clause boundaries). It is sometimes called "extrasentential" switching. In Assyrian-English switching one could say, “Ani wideili. What happened?” (“Those, I did them. What happened?”)
  • Intra-sentential switching occurs within a sentence or a clause. In Spanish-English switching one could say, “La onda is to fight y jambar." ("The in-thing is to fight and steal.”)
  • Tag-switching is the switching of either a tag phrase or a word, or both, from one language to another, (common in intra-sentential switches). In Spanish-English switching one could say, “Él es de México y así los criaron a ellos, you know.” (“He’s from Mexico, and they raise them like that, you know.”)
  • Intra-word switching occurs within a word itself, such as at a morpheme boundary. In Shona-English switching one could say, “But ma-day-s a-no a-ya ha-ndi-si ku-mu-on-a. (“But thesedays I don’t see him much.”) Here the English plural morpheme -s appears alongside the Shona prefix ma-, which also marks plurality.

(via allthingslinguistic)

The Art of Interpretation at the Nuremberg Trials


PRI has a great piece this week on how the Nuremberg Trials impacted the future of interpretation, and how interpreters still face struggles today.

"Before the Nuremberg Trials, any kind of interpretation was done consecutively — talk first, and then wait for the interpreter to translate. But at the end of World War II, the Allies created the International Military Tribunal, which was charged with an explicit mission: "fair and expeditious trials" of accused Nazi war criminals.

[H]olding a trial that was “fair” and “expeditious” meant speeding up translations of the four languages of the nations involved: English, German, Russian and French.

Read Nina Porzucki’s full article here (recommended!), and also make sure to watch the video above.

Native Peoples on the Cherokee Language

Native Peoples, a magazine “devoted to the arts and cultures of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas,” has some great pieces in their September-October 2014 issue about documenting and preserving the Cherokee language. Take a look:
Timeline: Two Centuries of Cherokee Language Innovation
Fluent Cherokee Speakers Establish New Terms and Revive Old Ones
Cherokees Keep Up With the Latest in Tech and Keep Their Language Alive
You can support the magazine by subscribing here. Help make sure we keep discussing these important topics!
Related: The Seri Language / The Yuchi Language

Native Peoples on the Cherokee Language

Native Peoples, a magazine “devoted to the arts and cultures of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas,” has some great pieces in their September-October 2014 issue about documenting and preserving the Cherokee language. Take a look:

  1. Timeline: Two Centuries of Cherokee Language Innovation
  2. Fluent Cherokee Speakers Establish New Terms and Revive Old Ones
  3. Cherokees Keep Up With the Latest in Tech and Keep Their Language Alive

You can support the magazine by subscribing here. Help make sure we keep discussing these important topics!

Related: The Seri Language / The Yuchi Language


"The fight for justice can wear on the body. That is something that Clint Barton, the member of Marvel’s Avengers known as the archer Hawkeye, is going to have to learn to cope with. In issue No. 19 of “Hawkeye,” which arrives in stores on July 30, the writer Matt Fraction and the artist David Aja show the aftereffects of a battle that has left their hero with profound ear damage.
The story strives to connect readers with what he is experiencing: when he can’t hear, the word balloons on the page are blank. The comic also makes extensive use of sign language, but provides no key to interpreting them. “If nothing else, it’s an opportunity for hearing people to get a taste of what it might be like to be deaf,” Mr. Fraction said.”

From George Gene Gustines, “One of Marvel’s Avengers Turns to Sign Language,” New York Times.

"The fight for justice can wear on the body. That is something that Clint Barton, the member of Marvel’s Avengers known as the archer Hawkeye, is going to have to learn to cope with. In issue No. 19 of “Hawkeye,” which arrives in stores on July 30, the writer Matt Fraction and the artist David Aja show the aftereffects of a battle that has left their hero with profound ear damage.

The story strives to connect readers with what he is experiencing: when he can’t hear, the word balloons on the page are blank. The comic also makes extensive use of sign language, but provides no key to interpreting them. “If nothing else, it’s an opportunity for hearing people to get a taste of what it might be like to be deaf,” Mr. Fraction said.”

From George Gene Gustines, “One of Marvel’s Avengers Turns to Sign Language,” New York Times.

superlinguo:

Fun times are on the up.
I’m not a corpus linguist, but I love playing with different corpora when they’re presented in accessibly and fun ways - so I was thrilled when Claire Hardaker tweeted about the NYT Chronicle, a way to visualise the language used across the newspaper’s history. 
Like Google’s n-gram corpus, it presents a nice clear chart. It has some advantages over n-gram, for example the NYT corpus is completely up to date while Google’s gets sketchy for contemporary references; compare NYT drone to n-gram drone and you see the NYT data kicks up swiftly just where the Google data ends. 
There are obviously biases in this data too. For one, there’s a bias towards American spelling that isn’t as pronounced in the Google Books corpus. The genre represented is also fairly narrow.
I found a nice use for it the other day while listening to a This American Life podcast that talked about “the meat question”; a period in the late 19th and early 20th century when the USA was unsure it would have enough viable agriculture to feed its population and looked at alternative sources of meat (including, most famously, hippopotamus). The NYT Chronicle has a nice couple of spikes in usages of this phrase when the issue was most pressing (and therefore made it into the news), while the Google Books usage is more diffuse, as people wrote books in the aftermath, being a corpus that is less immediate than newspapers.
This may not become my default go-to tool, but it’s nice and simple and makes a great point of comparison to n-gram. Thanks Claire for sharing!

superlinguo:

Fun times are on the up.

I’m not a corpus linguist, but I love playing with different corpora when they’re presented in accessibly and fun ways - so I was thrilled when Claire Hardaker tweeted about the NYT Chronicle, a way to visualise the language used across the newspaper’s history. 

Like Google’s n-gram corpus, it presents a nice clear chart. It has some advantages over n-gram, for example the NYT corpus is completely up to date while Google’s gets sketchy for contemporary references; compare NYT drone to n-gram drone and you see the NYT data kicks up swiftly just where the Google data ends. 

There are obviously biases in this data too. For one, there’s a bias towards American spelling that isn’t as pronounced in the Google Books corpus. The genre represented is also fairly narrow.

I found a nice use for it the other day while listening to a This American Life podcast that talked about “the meat question”; a period in the late 19th and early 20th century when the USA was unsure it would have enough viable agriculture to feed its population and looked at alternative sources of meat (including, most famously, hippopotamus). The NYT Chronicle has a nice couple of spikes in usages of this phrase when the issue was most pressing (and therefore made it into the news), while the Google Books usage is more diffuse, as people wrote books in the aftermath, being a corpus that is less immediate than newspapers.

This may not become my default go-to tool, but it’s nice and simple and makes a great point of comparison to n-gram. Thanks Claire for sharing!

"Brilliant idea alert: later this month, a new restaurant will be opening up in Toronto called “Signs” on 558 Yonge Street, which promises to be Canada’s first “deaf” restaurant where customers are asked to order their dinners using only American Sign Language.

Staffed primarily by deaf servers, the restaurant hopes to provide “a kind of community service for a deaf population that often struggles to find employment in a speech-oriented workforce,” reports The Star.”