Linguistics Colloquium

Bilingualism in Context: The Role of Language Experience and Cultural Identity in Language Processing

Ariel Chan
Stanford University
Fri October 6th 2023, 3:00 - 4:30pm
Margaret Jacks Hall, Greenberg Room (Room 126)

Abstract: Bilingualism is inherently a social phenomenon with variation. Sociolinguistic research (e.g., Chen, 2008; Lo, 1999; Milroy & Wei, 1995) has demonstrated that bilinguals employ code-switching for identity construction. Meanwhile, recent psycholinguistic research (e.g., Beatty-Martinez et al., 2019; Kaan et al., 2020; Treffers-Daller et al., 2020) has emerged to consider individual differences within interactional contexts and social networks. How do social factors, such as language experience and cultural identity, impact the cognitive and language processing of bilinguals? What insights about language processing can we gain from cross-disciplinary psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic research?

In this talk, I explore these two questions by examining code-switching among three groups of Cantonese-English bilinguals with diverse language experience and cultural identity from an integrated psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic perspective. To begin, I present behavioral data from three experiments, examining how language experience and cultural identity modulate code- switching comprehension and production within a controlled laboratory context. In the second part of my talk, I shift to focus on naturalistic code-switching data in conversations. Using data from a map task, I demonstrate how variation in language experience and cultural identity is reflected in the patterns of code-switching among bilinguals. The synthesis of experimental and qualitative data highlights the significant roles of both language experience and cultural identity in shaping cognitive and linguistic processes, underscoring the importance of incorporating sociocultural contexts into bilingualism research.