Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Identifying partially schematic units in the code-mixing of an English and German speaking child

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Open Access permissions



Antje Endesfelder Quick, Elena Lieven, Malinda Carpenter, Michael Tomasello

School/Research organisations


Intra-sentential code-mixing presents a number of puzzles for theories of bilingualism. In this paper, we examine the code-mixed English-German utterances of a young English-German-Spanish trilingual child between 1;10 – 3;1, using both an extensive diary kept by the mother and audio recordings. We address the interplay between lexical and syntactic aspects of language use outlined in the usage-based approach (e.g. Tomasello, 2003). The data suggest that partially schematic constructions play an important role in the code-mixing of this child. In addition, we find, first, that the code-mixing was not mainly the result of lexical gaps. Second, there was more mixing of German function words than content words. Third, code-mixed utterances often consisted of the use of a partially schematic construction with the open slot filled by material from the other language. These results raise a number of important issues for all theoretical approaches to code mixing, which we discuss.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-501
JournalLinguistic Approaches to Bilingualism
Issue number4
Early online date7 Mar 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Mar 2017

    Research areas

  • Code-mixing, Usage-based, Bilingual child, English - German, Partially schematic constructions

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. A new look at joint attention and common knowledge

    Siposova, B. & Carpenter, M., Aug 2019, In : Cognition. 189, p. 260-274 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Communicative eye contact signals a commitment to cooperate for young children

    Siposova, B., Tomasello, M. & Carpenter, M., Oct 2018, In : Cognition. 179, p. 192-201

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Selective copying of the majority suggests children are broadly "optimal-" rather than "over-" imitators

    Evans, C. L., Laland, K. N., Carpenter, M. & Kendal, R. L., 29 Aug 2018, In : Developmental Science. 21, 5, e12637.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Joint action and joint attention: drawing parallels between the literatures

    Milward, S. & Carpenter, M., 26 Mar 2018, In : Social and Personality Psychology Compass. Early View, e12377.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. The whistleblower’s dilemma in young children: when loyalty trumps other moral concerns

    Misch, A., Over, H. & Carpenter, M., 1 Mar 2018, In : Frontiers in Psychology. 9, 9 p., 250.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 249000612