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Syntactic Constraints

Full Title : Investigating the syntactic constraints in Malay-English code-switching in casual conversations in Brunei

Start Date : August 2011

Project leader : Debbie Ho

Team members : 2nd year English major students in the English language & linguistics programme

Brief Outline

Basically, the project aims to look at syntactic constraints in code-switching (CS) among bilingual speakers in Brunei. Moreover, it moves beyond looking at CS from a purely prescriptive standpoint to a sociolinguistic one. Essentially, the project aims at addressing three questions about CS in Brunei. One is whether the syntactic constraints in CS speech behavior found in other studies are also found in actual spontaneous CS conversations among Bruneians and if so, to what extent is there a consistent and systematic pattern to these constraints. Second is to find out the extent to which there is intra sentential CS in the speaker’s speech behavior. Third is to gauge the speakers’ attitudes towards CS speech. This is bearing in mind that almost of not all of them do code-switch. The project involves over a hundred and fifty bilingual Brunei- Malay speakers. Data is collected via a questionnaire, a syntactic constraint judgment test and tapings of CS conversations among students at the local university. It is hoped that this project will shed more light on a common but neglected linguistic phenomenon in Brunei.