Inalienable possession in Spanish-English code-switching Acceptability data from US heritage speakers of Spanish

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Bryan Koronkiewicz


Intrasentential code-switching is a common bilingual phenomenon that occurs when multiple languages are used in the same utterance. Research has shown that such switching is not arbitrary, but rather systematic and rule-governed. By looking at the syntactic interactions that happen when bilinguals co-activate their languages, we can shed light on our understanding of a variety of structural factors as well as bilingual grammars more generally. The current talk focuses on data from Spanish-English inalienable possession, which is manifested differently in the two languages (e.g., he washed his face vs. él se lavó la cara ‘(lit.) he to himself washed the face’). The results of an acceptability judgment task completed by US heritage speakers of Spanish suggest that regardless of the direction of the switch, an English-like structure is preferred with a possessive determiner (e.g., he washed su cara), and in the case of a Spanish verb switched with an English object, the preverbal clitic is required as well (e.g., él se lavó his face).

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