Fusion and the cognitive basis for bilingual discourse markers

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This paper argues for a cognitive motivation behind the nonseparation of the systems of discourse marking available to bilinguals. It produces evidence that bilingual speakers, in an unconscious effort to reduce the mental effort which is necessary to monitor and direct the hearer's responses and reactions to the speaker's utterances, can simplify monitoring -and- directing operations by eliminating the language-specific options available to them, thereby automaticizing the choice of expressions. This cognitive motivation, I argue, is so strong that it will at times override the social and communicative constraints on the discourse, leading to counterstrategic, unintentional choices or slips. It is suggested that Fusion, as the phenomenon is defined, is responsible for a type of bilingual discourse marking which, if extralinguistic factors permit, may lead to language change. Fusion figures in a function-based model of language contact phenomena alongside Integration, Differentiation, and Convergence, and the position of other approaches to bilingual discourse markers is examined in the light of this model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-528
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • bilingual discourse marker
  • cognitive base
  • fusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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