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A Quantitative Analysis of Code-switching in the Arabic-Romance Kharjas

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This paper studies code-switching between Andalusian Arabic and Romance in the kharjas, the closing verses of the muwashshahaat poems. These poems, dating from the 11th to the 14th centuries, were composed in Classical Arabic, while the kharjas were written in two languages of Al-Andalus: Andalusian Arabic and Romance. The purpose is to investigate to what degree the structural aspect of code-switching in the kharjas conforms to descriptions in the current literature on code-switching in bilingual communities and what that tells us about the degree of bilingualism in Al-Andalus. The 43 kharjas (Corriente, 2008) present a total of 104 code-switches: 82 intra-sentential, 13 word-internal and 9 inter-sentential. The base language in the majority of cases is Romance: 73 % of the switches occurred from Romance to Arabic. Cross- tabulations of the direction of the switch, lexical category of the switched parts and what immediately precedes and follows them show statistically significant relationships, indicating that the code-switches found in this corpus are not the result of a random process of language mixing resulting in “an outlandish and deliberately unsophisticated patois” (Monroe, 1974:31). A study of the intra-sentential code-switches also contributes to an explanation of the behavior of the Arabic definite article, al- and its allomorphs, in Arabic loanwords.

Affiliations: 1: a) Utica College, ; 2: b) State University of New York at Albany,


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