Double Plurality in Codeswitching

  • EK Amuzu


This paper deals with the phenomenon of double plurality in codeswitching, with illustrations from Ewe-English Codeswitching (CS). It shows that English nouns (but never Ewe ones) may take two plurals, the English -s and its Ewe counterpart wó. -s always occurs on the stem of the noun while  occurs either immediately after -s or a few slots away. The paper demonstrates that.the English noun-and-plural units are consistently embedded in Ewe-based NPs in which Ewe modifiers of the English nouns occur in slots associated with them in monolingual Ewe NPs. While -s may be dropped from mixed NPs that already show double plurality, the dropping of  from such NPs makes them unacceptable. Three theoretical questions are asked in our quest to explain this plural doubling phenomenon. One is why it involves only English noun heads. The second relates to why the two forms emerge as plurals even though -s is redundant. The third one is about the nature of language production involved: what bilingual processes are involved in the phenomenon of double plurality? It is shown that the two plurals arrive in their respective positions in the mixed NPs via separate paths in language production. The distribution of -s relates to processes that are conceptual (i.e. semantic-pragmatic) in nature. On the other hand, the distribution of  relates to processes that are morpho-syntactic in nature. Another issue briefly explored is what this bilingual phenomenon reveals about the linguistic properties of the plural category in monolingual NPs. The paper ends with a discussion of the role that language typology plays in determining whether plurals may be doubled or not doubled in CS.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2458-746X
print ISSN: 0855-1502