Optimality Theory
as a General Cognitive Architecture

Workshop held at the 33rd annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society

July 20, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts


Géraldine Legendre and Mary Schindler (Johns Hopkins University): Bilingualism and the optimizing of code-switching

When speaking to one another bilingual speakers routinely and unconsciously code-switch, i.e. switch from one language to another, producing ‘mixed’ speech. We discuss the case of Urban Wolof, a mixture of French and Wolof spoken in the cities of Senegal which challenges all previous attempts at characterizing code-switching in a constrained fashion. We argue that an Optimality-Theoretic approach straightforwardly captures its otherwise unexpected properties as well as predicts the range of code-switching patterns attested cross-linguistically.