Between Three Languages


Staff member
Between Three Languages: Composite Structure in Interlanguage

Janet M. Fuller

Applied Linguistics 20/4: 534-561

This article seeks to establish connections between two di erent language
contact phenomena, interlanguage and codeswitching. The data used in this
analysis come from two sources: an interlanguage corpus which has English as
the target language, but also contains material from the speaker's two rst
languages, Spanish and German; and a German¡ÀEnglish codeswitching corpus
containing data from 20 relatively balanced bilinguals. A comparison of these
two corpora indicates that similar patterns appear in both types of bilingual
output, and that the di erences can be explained in terms of pro ciency. The
analysis is framed within the Matrix Language Frame model and relies on the
concepts of complex lexical structure and a composite Matrix Language. It is
argued that interlanguage grammar is a composite of features from the
speaker's previously learned languages as well as the target language. The
composite arises when levels of complex lexical structure come from di erent
languages. This perspective on the study of languages in contact sheds light on
the issue of L1 transfer and the structure of interlanguage grammar.