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Bilinguals commonly draw on their two languages within a single speech event, a practice known as code-switching. On the basis of different methods and bilingual populations, various theoretical accounts of code-switching have been developed. Yet, while theories proliferate, cross-fertilization between them remains limited. Hence, the question that guides this presentation is: how can we better understand the nature of mixed interactions, with a view to creating more accurate models of (multilingual) language competence?

I will show how a multimethod, comparative approach that integrates linguistic, psycholinguistic and social factors will help us draw a distinction between which code-switching patterns are uniform across communities and language pairs, and which patterns are variable. Addressing both the nominal and verbal domains, I will present findings from a series of comparative studies that investigate how bilinguals from different communities produce, judge, or process bilingual structures.

I will discuss to what extent bilinguals (i) produce strings that can be seen as having the same syntactic structure within and across communities, (ii) make the same linguistic judgments, and (iii) converge in their processing of these strings. I will highlight the importance of surveying the patterns that emerge across communities, rather than on an example and counter-example basis, in order to bring our understanding of code-switching, and of language as a whole, forward.