Code-Switching and Lexical Borrowing among Brazilian Portuguese and English Bilinguals in Chicagoland
Fortuna Dias, Silvia
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Portuguese is among the eleven foreign languages most widely spoken in the U.S. (Census, 2010). Yet, very few studies have explored code-switching and lexical borrowing (two common contact-induced phenomena in bilingual communities) among Portuguese/English bilinguals in the U.S. The Brazilian community in Chicagoland has a unique characteristic: members are not concentrated in a well-defined area and thus rely on social networks and on the existence of Brazil-related institutions to maintain their language and culture. This unique situation seemed ideal to investigate the findings of Poplack (1980). Unlike Chicagoland Brazilians, Poplack’s Puerto-Ricans lived in the same block in New York City and frequently interacted with other community members. Results found a correlation between levels of bilingual ability and code-switching types, in which fluent bilinguals showed higher rates of intrasentenial code-switching and non-fluent ones code-switched more extra-sententially. There has been much debate in the field over the critical period hypothesis (Penfield and Roberts, 1959) and whether it is age of L2 onset or length of L2 exposure that has an effect on levels of bilingual proficiency. Assuming that both factors are predictors of bilingual ability, this study investigated which of them possibly correlated with code-switching types and lexical borrowing types. Predictions for code-switching were made based on Poplack, i.e., the earlier speakers were first exposed to English, the greater preference for intrasentential code-switching; the later speakers were first exposed to English, the greater preference for extra-sentential type. In addition, the longer speakers were exposed to English, the higher their intrasentential rates, and the less exposure, the higher the extra-sentential rates. No predictions were made for lexical borrowing types. Qualitative and quantitative analyses of the 893-minute corpus, obtained via sociolinguistic interviews with twenty adult informants, were conducted. Results showed that the predictions for code-switching were unfulfilled. However, a correlation was found between age of L2 onset and intersentential code-switching, and also between length of L2 exposure and extra-sentential type, confirming that each bilingual community is unique not only in patterns of bilingual behavior, but also regarding their correlating factors. No correlations were found for lexical borrowing types.