Bilingualism as matchmaker: Towards a marriage of sociopragmatic and psycholinguistic research

Joel Walters

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This paper attempts to promote a dialogue between psycholinguists (and cognitive psychologists) and sociolinguists (and social psychologists). To this end, I propose a sociopragmatic-psycholinguistic (SPPL) model to account for several aspects of bilingualism. Codeswitching, interference, and translation are bilingual phenomena in need of a unified account. The SPPL model, involving a set of structural information components and a set of processing mechanisms to explain information flow, is proposed to provide that account. The structural aspects of the model consist of two modules - for selecting and regulating bilingual language choice and affective information - and five information components. The modules show that bilingualism and linguistic affect interact with each and every information component in language processing. The five components are: a social identity component to specify information to account for bilingual language use, a two-part component to handle contextual and discourse information, an intentional/speech act component to spell out the illocutionary force and propositional content of individual utterances, a two-part component responsible for formulation of lexemes and discourse patterns, and an articulator to account for bilingual speech. Four processing mechanisms show how information in the model is used. Imitation, variation, integration, and control are grounded conceptually in linguistics and psychology. Imitation and variation are derived from basic level processes, imitation from recognition and recall, variation from discrimination and classification. Integration and control are executive mechanisms. The model and data are attempts to clarify fundamental distinctions in linguistics, psychology, and sociology, including the distinction between representation of linguistic knowledge and use of that knowledge, between structure and process, and between sociopragmatics and psycholinguistics.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReviewing Linguistic Thought
Subtitle of host publicationConverging Trends for the 21st Century
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783110920826
ISBN (Print)9783110183641
StatePublished - 12 May 2011

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2005 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, D-10785 Berlin. All rights reserved.


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