Matrix language

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In codeswitching studies, the dominant language is often called the matrix language, into which elements from the embedded language are inserted.

  • “...the participating languages are labelled in thee following way. The ‘base’ language is called the matrix language (ML) and the ‘contributing’ language (or languages) is called the embedded language (EL). This terminology will be used in this book. I follow Joshi (1985) in how the terms matrix language and embedded language are used in regard to [codeswitching], while acknowledging that Jacobson (1977) seems to be the first to have used these terms in reference to [codeswitching], albeit in a different sense.” (Myers-Scotton 1993:20)


  • base language (vs. contributing language) (cf. Myers-Scotton 1993:20)
  • host language (vs. guest language) (Sridhar & Sridhar 1980)


  • Jacobson, R. 1977. The social implications of intrasentential codeswitching. In: Romo, R. & Paredes, R. (eds.) New directions in Chicano scholarship. San Diego: University of California at San Diego, 227-256. (Special issue of The New Scholar)
  • Joshi, A. 1985. Processing of sentences with intrasentential codeswitching. In: Dowty, D.R. & Karttunen, L. & Zwicky, A. (eds.) Natural language parsing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 190-205.
  • Myers-Scotton, Carol. 1993. Duelling languages: Grammatical structure in codeswitching. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Sridhar, S.N. & Sridhar, K. 1980. The syntax and psycholinguistics of bilingual code-mixing. Canadian Journal of Psychology 34:407-416.