Request for Advice on Using CHAT and CLAN to code codeswitching on a phrasal level

Brian MacWhinney macw at cmu.edu
Fri Feb 8 13:30:46 EST 2019


Dear Jin Yi,
    Most people think of code-switching in terms of the selection of both lexemes and syntax from different languages.  You are saying that SCE uses pretty much exclusively English lexemes, but with a different syntax.  In that regard.  In one of your examples, the adverb is placed at the end of the clase.  Actually, this is grammatical in American English, although it is a marked form.  The other example involves deletion of the modal.  Modal deletion is common in children and also crops up to AVE (Aftrican-American Vernacular English).  Omission is easy to mark in CHAT with 0will.  More generally, the coding of varieties of English such as AVE, Indian English, SCE and others can require additional markings and additional lexical items.  For example, for British English, we have a fairly large number of additional words not found in the States in a file called 0uk.cut in the MOR lexicon.   
      I don't see the examples you cite as comparable with the type of code-switching we find in corpora such as the the Bangor Miami corpus at https://biling.talkbank.org/access/Bangor/Miami.html <https://biling.talkbank.org/access/Bangor/Miami.html>.  However, it is easy enough in CHAT to simply add a postcode such as [+ swi] to any utterance that you judge to have code-switching.  And you can also include comments regarding your syntactic analysis on a %com line.
     
-- Brian MacWhinney, Teresa Heinz Professor of Cognitive Psychology, LTI and Modern Languages, CMU

> On Feb 7, 2019, at 11:42 PM, whenyouonlyhaveone at gmail.com wrote:
> 
> Hello,
> 
> 
> 
> My name is Wong Jin Yi and I am a research assistant based in Singapore. I am under a linguistics lab run by Suzy Styles and Luca Onnis of Nanyang Technological University. 
> 
> 
> 
> I am currently trying to prepare some transcripts for uploading into CHILDES. The transcripts are being coded via CHAT. However, I have realised that the transcription convention of CHAT doesn't allow me to code codeswitching on any level above the individual word. 
> 
> 
> 
> This convention is not going to work for Singaporean Colloquial English, because Singaporean Colloquial English (henceforth known as SCE) is a creole which makes use of english as its lexifier language and has much of its grammatical and syntactic structures derived from Chinese Languages/Malay languages. As a result of this, using CHAT's existing coding convention for codeswitching would not be able to code for SCE, because the words being used are clearly English in origin, and one would only be able to grasp the difference if the entire phrase is being marked. 
> 
> 
> 
> For example, here is a sample of a phrase in SCE and how it would be marked under the current conventions. 
> 
> 
> 
> *MOT:	and no i've got eight, and now i've got seven only!
> 
> 
> 
> In this example, SCE sentence structure is apparent in the unusual way in which only is used at the end of the clause instead of the beginning, as it would be in standard English. By CHAT convention, one would mark the word "only" with @s:sce, however, that would lose the essence of what sce is entirely, notwithstanding the fact that the word "only" is undoubtedly an English lexical form. 
> 
> 
> 
> *MOT:	sit down.
> 
> *MOT:	aurelia sit down, <mama read to you at s:sce> [x 1] come.
> 
> 
> 
> The above fragment also gives an example of SCE speech patterns, in this case the non-usage of the future marking article <will>, which would usually be used in standard English. Again, in this case, it is unclear how it would be possible to mark it as codeswitching according to CHAT conventions, since all the words used are undoubtedly standard English words. 
> 
> 
> 
> Currently, going with CHAT convention, the best way I have found to note these instances is as follows:
> 
> 
> 
> *MOT:	aurelia sit down, <mama read to you at s:sce> [x 1] come.
> 
> 
> 
> This is the best way I have found that gets past the Check function i.e. doesn’t give me an error message when I run Check. However, I’m not sure regarding how well this format allows me to run a variety of commands in CLAN using this transcript. Would anyone who has encountered similar problems previously be able to advise me on this? I have tried ELAN, but that is also not ideal, considering that i will have to manually code the timings on each utterance before conversion. 
> 
> 
> 
> As a result of the above problem, I would like to ask, if it is possible, to include a means in CHAT that can more clearly show codeswitching at a phrasal level?This would be very helpful in our understanding of how language mixing occurs in Singapore. The solving of this problem would also be likely to contribute to the using of CHAT to code for creoles, especially those that use a known lexifier. I believe this would definitely help in research of creole languages. 
> 
> 
> 
> In addition, would anyone be able to recommend a means to add Singapore Colloquial English as a codable language in the CLAN metadata? This would also be greatly helpful in our efforts to code our transcripts. 
> 
> 
> 
> Thank you very much, and I hope to hear from you all soon! :) 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> Regards
> 
> Wong Jin Yi
> 
> LEAP Lab
> 
> 
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