DOI: 10.1177/13670069231190209 ISSN:

Language contact phenomena in multiword units: The code-switching–calquing continuum

Inga Hennecke, Evelyn Wiesinger
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education

Aims and objectives:

Code-switching and calquing are two widespread language contact phenomena in bilingual speech. While both phenomena have been discussed extensively in research on language contact in the past decades, only very few studies systematically investigate code-switching and calquing of and within multiword units or constructions. In our contribution, we aim at developing a more differentiated account of code-switching and calquing of and within multiword units and constructions, bringing together recent usage-based psycholinguistic and Construction Grammar theories and modeling with cognitively oriented approaches to language contact and bilingualism.


We analyze and discuss corpus data from the Corpus of Spanish in Southern Arizona (CESA) from first-, second-, and third-generation bilingual Spanish–English speakers in Arizona.

Data and analysis:

The corpus analysis focuses on code-switching and calquing of and within N Prep N, NN(N), and Adj N/N Adj patterns (N = noun, Prep = preposition, Adj = adjective).


The analysis highlights the importance of both lexically specific multiword units and partially and fully schematic constructions in code-switching and calquing as well as a continuum between constructions situated closer to the lexical or to the syntactic pole.


Whereas multiword sequences have been found to play an important role in (mostly first language [L1]) acquisition, use, and processing, the role of multiword units and constructions in bilingual speech has been much less studied so far.


The study shows that both lexically specific constructions or multiword units as well as partially or fully schematic constructions play a central role in code-switching and calquing. The study argues that code-switching and calquing may ultimately be viewed as a continuum, since the speakers rely on similar, highly frequent, and productive constructions and their interlingual correspondences for both phenomena.

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