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Code-switching and the optimal grammar of bilingual language use*



In this article, we provide a framework of bilingual grammar that offers a theoretical understanding of the socio-cognitive bases of code-switching in terms of five general principles that, individually or through interaction with each other, explain how and why specific instances of code-switching arise. We provide cross-linguistic empirical evidence to claim that these general sociolinguistic principles, stated as socio-cognitive constraints on code-switching, characterize multi-linguistic competence in so far as they are able to show how “local” functions of code-switching arise as specific instantiations of these “global” principles, or (products of) their interactions.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Agnes Bolonyai, North Carolina State University, Department of English, Campus Box 8105, Raleigh, NC 27695-8105, USA


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We would like to express our special thanks and gratitude to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful suggestions and constructive comments. We also thank the editors for their assistance. We are particularly grateful to Carmen Silva-Corvalán for her invaluable advice and continued support. Ewa Jaworska deserves special thanks for her copy-editing work. We would also like to acknowledge Tímea Kovács for her assistance with the transcription of the Hungarian–English data. The authors are listed in alphabetical order.



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