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Cambridge University Press
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February 2018
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Does the use of two languages by bilinguals inevitably bring about grammatical change? Does switching between languages serve as a catalyst in such change? It is widely held that linguistic code-switching inherently promotes grammatical convergence - languages becoming more similar to each other through contact; evidence for this, however, remains elusive. A model of how to study language contact scientifically, Bilingualism in the Community highlights variation patterns in speech, using a new bilingual corpus of English and Spanish spontaneously produced by the same speakers. Putting forward quantitative diagnostics of grammatical similarity, it shows how bilinguals' two languages differ from each other, aligning with their respective monolingual benchmarks. The authors argue that grammatical change through contact is far from a foregone conclusion in bilingual communities, where speakers are adept at keeping their languages together, yet separate. The book is compelling reading for anyone interested in bilingualism and its importance in society.


'This book takes us out of our comfort zone in critically examining the evidence for supposed convergence between Spanish and English in the Southwestern United States. It sets new standards in language contact research and the team of Rena Torres Cacoullos and Catherine Travis has produced an impeccable study, using state of the art methodology and analytical tools.'

Pieter Muysken - Radboud University, Nijmegen

'Thanks to impeccable scientific methodology and singularly rich data, this ground-breaking study of the oldest bilingual community in the US stands the received wisdom about contact-induced change on its head. A must-read for all serious students of language contact, regardless of perspective or approach!'

Shana Poplack - University of Ottawa

'This rich linguistic and sociolinguistic analysis of Spanish and English in a traditionally bilingual community where code-switching is the norm sets a new standard for the study of language contact. The careful quantitative analysis produces the surprising result that code-switching speakers maintain distinct structures and constraints in their two languages. The methods and the results constitute a ground-breaking contribution to the study of language change.'

Joan Bybee - University of New Mexico

'Bilingualism in the Community sets a high standard of variationist studies of contact-induced change and applies a systematic comparative methodology that includes comparing with a previous, monolingual variety and monolingual benchmarks. The book is in general very well written and is recommended to scholars interested in language contact, variation, and the interplay of the two both within and outside the variationist framework.’

Maria Khachaturyan Source: The LINGUIST List

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