The Effect of Race and Stigma on Code-switching: An Implicit Social Cognition Model of Linguistic Processing

Los Angeles, California
Raised of $3,300 Goal
Ended on 11/09/17
Campaign Ended
  • $70
  • 3%
  • Finished
    on 11/09/17

About This Project

This study investigates the role of stigma and race on intersentential code-switching: language “mixing” within a sentence. Linguistic code-switching reflects psychological associations a speaker has formed between social settings and social relationships. Subjects may feel stigma when asked to code-switch, especially by a speaker from a racial outgroup. This study integrates emotion into a model of linguistic processing with educational implications.

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What is the context of this research?

In the United States, code-switching has frequently been described in pejorative terms by the monolingual majority, who may associate the use of languages other than English with a racialized, non-normative outgroup status. Code-switching occurs most often within the family unit and communities of friends, and thus for the bilingual speaker, the practice may represent a highly emotional expression of ingroup status. Some researchers assert that the neurological processes associated with affect play a decisive role in the acquisition of language.

What is the significance of this project?

The declarative/procedural model of linguistic processing distinguishes between conscious and unconscious processes in language production, yet little attention has been paid to how the emotions evoked through conditioning can be incorporated into a linguistic processing model. The Memory Systems Model of Implicit Social Cognition posits an alternative neural network to explain unconscious social behavior, based upon the functional characteristics of semantic memory, instrumental memory, and classical conditioning. Therefore, the implicit and social aspects of linguistic processing, thus far largely neglected in the literature, may be elucidated through an integration of these two theoretical models.

What are the goals of the project?

The primary aim of the study is to document the neural underpinnings of linguistic production in a verbal imitation task and, more specifically, to establish how an emotional response to the imitation task may affect the fMRI signal observed in relation to three memory systems: instrumental memory, semantic memory, and classic conditioning. A second aim consists in elaborating the language network as traditionally defined to yield a revised linguistic processing model that can account for implicit social cognition. This model must identify how memory systems are affected by an emotional response that may show differentiation by type: the environmentally-induced race factor and the internally-oriented stigma factor.


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We are asking to cover the minimal costs of the pilot study. We need six subjects to be scanned and reimbursed. Given the innovative nature of the task design, this pilot study is necessary to gather results for a larger grant proposal.

Endorsed by

This project has the potential to provide additional insight into some of the factors that bear on linguistic processing, and in a way that is of central relevance to the large bilingual population in the United States. Lindy has the strong grounding in linguistics, psychology, and neuroscience necessary to make this project a success.
This looks like an interesting project that will investigate the intersection of linguistic and cultural phenomena. Looking forward to seeing the results!
This looks like a fascinating project that addresses important social issues in a novel way.
This project may tell us much about the interaction between sociocultural factors and linguistic processing. Lindy Comstock is a knowledgeable and highly trained linguist who is well equipped to carry this project out.

Flag iconProject Timeline

We hope to conduct scanning in November, present preliminary findings in December, and submit a grant proposal to fund a full study in January. Please help us make these deadlines!

Oct 19, 2017

Project Launched

Nov 30, 2017

Scanning & analysis

Dec 13, 2017

Conference presentation

Jan 15, 2018

Submit full study proposal

Meet the Team

Lindy Comstock
Lindy Comstock

Team Bio

The video in this project is owned and created by Katrina Kan. Please like it on YouTube:

Lindy Comstock

Lindy Comstock is finishing her PhD in Applied Linguistics at UCLA and will be working in conjunction with the UCLA Brain Mapping Center.

Lab Notes

Nothing posted yet.

Additional Information

The benefits of the proposed study are twofold: firstly, it offers an investigation of the effect of externally and internally motivated emotional responses (race and stigma) on language production, promising practical and theoretical implications for second language acquisition research; secondly, it provides a theoretical step forward in revising the declarative/procedural model and identifying the role of emotion and implicit social cognition in linguistic processing. The results of the study will represent a significant step forward in understanding how multiple systems may collaborate to affect linguistic processing, as well as providing insight into their practical consequences for language production and acquisition.

Project Backers

  • 2Backers
  • 3%Funded
  • $70Total Donations
  • $35.00Average Donation
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