Justin Sarkis (UC Riverside)
The effect of lexical accessibility on Spanish-English codeswitching
Language production is characterized by a series of winner-take-all choices that a speaker must make. The language in which to produce speech is itself a choice that bilinguals face, and sometimes two languages are used within the same utterance. This phenomenon is called codeswitching. The current study investigated lexical accessibility, the ease with which a word is retrieved and produced, as a factor that may predict codeswitching behavior. Spanish-English bilinguals produced sentences, in a novel paradigm, that elicited naturalistic codeswitches in the laboratory. In this Spanish language production task, speakers were more likely to codeswitch into English, and exhibited longer speaking durations, when planning words that were more lexically accessible in English. Given findings that comprehenders learn subtle acoustic cues to predict upcoming codeswitches, the present work suggests one means by which planning demands and constraints on the producer may yield these patterns in the language environment.