The Matrix Language Frame model and Spanish/English codeswitching in fiction

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Elsevier B.V.


The Matrix Language Frame (MLF) model of structural constraints on codeswitching was presented by Carol Myers-Scotton in her 1993 book Duelling Languages (Myers-Scotton, C., 1993. Duelling languages. Clarendon Press, Oxford). This article reports on a test of the model using a written corpus. The corpus consists of novels and short stories containing Spanish/English codeswitching published in the United States between 1970–2000. The analysis reveals relatively few counterexamples to the MLF model; the majority of codeswitches found in these texts can be accounted for by Myers-Scotton's model of grammatical structure. The application of a model formulated for speech to a written corpus has implications for the relationship between spoken and written data and the use of the latter in linguistic analyses. The most salient feature of the data is a high incidence of Matrix Language (ML) shifts at mid-sentence. Modifications to the original exposition of the model are proposed in regard to the flexibility of the ML and the constituent types possible.