32 years on and still triggering: psycholinguistic processes as motivation for switching amongst Croatian-English bilinguals
journal contributionposted on 02.06.2017 by Hlavac, Jim
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This paper investigates the phenomenon of "unconscious" or "unintended" switching between languages - triggering - on the basis of accessing items - trigger words - whose language-specific membership may be ambiguous. Triggering as a phenomenon in some examples of bilingual speech was first noticed and explored by Michael Clyne in the first of his many books, Transference and Triggering (1967), and has been subsequently problematised by many researchers m the field of language contact. A linguistic corpus based on taped interviews with 100 second-generation Croatian-English bilinguals provides the bilingual speech sample in which triggered switching is examined. While the relative number of instances of triggered switching is small, two categories of triggering are distinguished - consequential and anticipational, while two productive categories of trigger words are identified - proper nouns and English-origin lexical transfers (almost always nouns). The data suggest that items whose semantic-referential values are similar cross-linguistically are more likely to offer potential "cross-over points" leading to "unconscious" and "unimpeded" switching.