Are there syntactic constraints on code‐mixing?

Eyamba G Bokamba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study provides a critical review of the syntactic study of code‐mixing with particular reference to the syntactic constraints paradigm. It examines seven major surface constraints deemed to have universal applicability and shows on the basis of cross‐linguistic data that none of them is universal. It is argued in the light of this finding that the postulation of universal syntactic constraints on code‐mixing may be premature and that the constraint‐oriented theory to the study of this phenomenon is descriptively inadequate because it fails to explicate its socio‐psycholinguistics. The study maintains that factors such as degree of multilinguality, who speaks what variety of language to whom, when, and for what reason are crucial parameters in the formulation of an adequate theory of code‐switching and code‐mixing. To achieve this objective, it is suggested that researchers integrate in their analysis three different but interrelated types of data: structural, psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-292
Number of pages16
JournalWorld Englishes
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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