Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
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Research and Education

Michael Johns

Michael Johns
Graduate Student - Spanish Linguistics and Language Science
Michael Johns


I am a PhD Candidate and NSF Graduate Fellow in the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, pursuing a Ph.D. in Language Science and Spanish. My research focuses on the link between production and processing, and I explore this link through the incorporation of sociolinguistic and corpus-based research into psycholinguistic and lab-based experiments examining bilingual codemixing. In the spring of 2019, I will visit the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras to work with Dr. Rosa E. Guzzardo Tamargo on a study investigating bilingual language processing.

Project Summary:

The current project tackles a long-standing sociolinguistic debate on the status of single-word insertions of one language into another, called lone other-language items (or LOLIs). While some argue that LOLIs belong in the same category as bona fide multi-word codeswitching, others propose that they form a category of their own: nonce borrowings, behaving momentarily as if they belong to the same language as the surrounding speech. To test this hypothesis, highly proficient Spanish-English bilinguals will be recruited from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, to partake in a study that makes use of pupillometry to examine the online comprehension of LOLIs, multi-word codeswitching, and unilingual speech. If LOLIs behave like unilingual speech, it supports the hypothesis that they are "nonce borrowings"; if, however, they pattern more closely to multi-word codeswitching, it would suggest that they are not completely integrated into the surrounding language.