Faculty Publications


Code mixing in a young bilingual child.

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Alejandro Brice

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued

January 1999

Date Available

October 2013




As the culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) population of the United States continues to increase dramatically, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) face the challenge how best to serve children whose primary language is not English. One way of overcoming the bilingual communication barrier is for bilingual children to alternate their two languages (i.e., code switching and code mixing). Frequently, SLPs have limited understanding of the functions and patterns of language alternation in bilingual children. Language alternation is a normal, common, and important aspect of bilingualism. This investigation aims to answer several basic questions regarding normal code mixing behaviors in a young bilingual child, namely, (a) What syntactic elements are mixed most frequently in conversational discourse in a young bilingual child? And (b) What information can be applied to a diagnostic or therapeutic situation? Spontaneous speech samples of a bilingual Spanish-English speaking child were collected during a period of 17 months. The child was between the ages of 6 and 8 years. Descriptive analysis for the data revealed percentages and rank ordering of syntactic elements switched in the longitudinal language samples obtained. Specific recommendations for using code mixing in therapy for bilingual and monolingual speech-language pathologists are given.


Abstract only. Full-text article is available through licensed access provided by the publisher. Published in Communication Disorders Quarterly, 21(1), 17-22, Fall 1999. Members of the USF System may access the full-text of the article through the authenticated link provided.




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