Code-switching practices in Luxembourg's Portuguese-speaking minority: A pilot study on the distinctive characteristics of an immigrant community's code-switching practices within a trilingual majority

Gerald Stell, Carmen Parafita Couto

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Luxembourg is a multilingual country with Luxembourgish, French and German as official languages. It nowadays counts a large population (roughly 15 %) of native Portuguese speakers, of which the linguistic behaviour has come under close attention. This article purports to illustrate the grammatical and conversational characteristics of in-group code-switching as observable among a small sample of Portuguese native speaking students, and to assess to what extent it differs from in-group code-switching practices among a control group of native Luxembourgish-speaking students, with both samples having theoretically enjoyed similar access to the country's official languages. It shows that grammatical patterns of code-switching in the former sample are both insertional and alternational, while they are overwhelmingly insertional in the latter sample, with French and Portuguese matrix clauses being generally less prone to insertions than Luxembourgish matrix clauses. It shows at a conversational level that the former sample mostly uses Luxembourgish as a language of in-group interaction, but also French and Portuguese, while the latter only uses Lux-embourgish as a language of in-group interaction. Finally, it shows that alternations between Luxembourgish utterances and utterances in other languages in the former sample are not necessarily functional, while they tend to be in the latter sample.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-185
Number of pages33
JournalZeitschrift fur Sprachwissenschaft
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Code-switching
  • Immigrants
  • Luxembourg
  • Luxembourgish
  • Portuguese
  • Sociolinguistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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