Faculty Member Awarded NSF Grant

October 18, 2010

Catherine Travis, Associate Professor of Linguistics, has been funded by the National Science Foundation for research that advances the understanding of language varieties spoken by bilingual people.

"Evaluating Convergence via Code-Switching: Cross-Linguistic Priming, Rates, and the Structure of Subject Expression," will compile a collection of bilingual Spanish-English speech to test the hypothesis of convergence via code-switching through an analysis of the structure of the first-person singular subject (yo) expression.

Grammatical convergence, the achievement of structural similarity among languages, is widely considered to be an inevitable consequence of bilingualism. Code-switching, the alternation of different languages in a single speech event, has been assumed to be a key mechanism for such change. Travis, and colleague Rena Torres Cacoullos of Pennsylvania State University, selected the New Mexican bilingual community, where there is regular code-switching between Spanish and English, as the subject of their inquiry.

The wide spread code-switching between Spanish and English, sometimes referred to as Spanglish, is often denigrated as indicative of grammatical deterioration. In this project Travis and Cacoullos empirically test whether alternating use of English does affect the grammar of Spanish.

This information was originally published at http://research.unm.edu.