Date: Wed, 29 Dec 1993 10:33:46 -0700 From: Rudy Troike Subject: Re: modren metathesis Gwyn-- I'm posting this on ADS-L since some others may be interested in the question of distinguishing borrowing from code-switching. You have already recognized most of the issues which go into this vexed question. One of the most common criteria is phonology -- whether the "foreign" word or phrase is spoken with L1 or L2 phonology. This works well where there is a detectable difference in the L1 and L2 pronunciation of the speaker, which is often the case. Gumperz has pointed to the difficulty of using this in analyzing CS between Indian languages, since they often share the same phonology. Also, the L2 learner may have learned it with L1 phonology, so in such cases the criterion becomes moot (and obviously one would not like to stake any serious theoretical claims on such subjects). Don Lance innovated an important methodological caution, which was to insure that the L2 word was also known in the L1, so that it was not a case of lexical gap, as may often happen with bilinguals, especially with technical terms. But single word shifts are not very interesting, since they provide no evidence that the speaker has fluent productive control over two grammatical systems, and can interleave them. They might be very interesting sociolinguis- tically, as your example suggests, in the same way I recall a British speaker once (ostentatiously, to American ears) making extensive use of Latin terms in a formal speech. I.e., the "dropping" of high-status L2 terms into one's discourse certainly sends signals about one's social status, education, etc. If it turns out that both in free speech and in experimental judgments of acceptability, that no one can comfortably switch other than single content words, one would then look at the possibility of grammatical constraints which somehow (e.g., such as SVO vs SOV syntax) limit switching. The key is not just taking single words as significant. One can argue endlessly about whether a lexical item is a borrowing or a switch. Because I am conscious that the word derives from French, am I consciously switching to French every time I use it (not knowing French, by the way), while everyone else who does not know this arcane fact is not? If, when I use the Spanish word in an English utterance, I switch to Spanish phonology, I would say I was switching, while most people using it with altered English phonology [ae] instead of [a], etc. would be simply using it as a borrowing. No one can ever say at what point a foreign term becomes fully nativized. Probably, as Gumperz has done, you need to record speech involving use of English in Thai conversation, and then ethnographically interview the speakers and get judgments on what they have done. It is always important to get biographical information on the speakers' knowledge and use of the L2, and samples of their unmixed speech in both languages, as well as perform the "Lance test", if I may so christen it. Whether or not it is true CS, from your description it sounds of sociolinguistic interest. Happy Ano Nuevo to all, --Rudy Troike