25.3957, Diss: English, Spanish; Lang Acq, Linguistic Theories, Morphology, Syntax: Ebert: 'The Morphosyntax of Wh-questions: Evidence from Spanish-English Code-switching'

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LINGUIST List: Vol-25-3957. Thu Oct 09 2014. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 25.3957, Diss: English, Spanish; Lang Acq, Linguistic Theories, Morphology, Syntax: Ebert: 'The Morphosyntax of Wh-questions: Evidence from Spanish-English Code-switching'

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Date: Thu, 09 Oct 2014 11:37:52
From: Shane Ebert [sebert2 at uic.edu]
Subject: The Morphosyntax of Wh-questions: Evidence from Spanish-English Code-switching

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Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago 
Program: Hispanic and Italian Studies 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2014 

Author: Shane Ebert

Dissertation Title: The Morphosyntax of Wh-questions: Evidence from
Spanish-English Code-switching 

Dissertation URL:  http://goo.gl/VMe6fj

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition
                     Linguistic Theories

Subject Language(s): English (eng)
                     Spanish (spa)

Dissertation Director(s):
Kay González-Vilbazo

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation draws on the systematic nature of restrictions on
code-switching (CS) to provide evidence concerning the morphosyntactic
properties of wh-questions in Spanish and English, particularly with respect
to inversion. CS allows one to independently control the language of
individual words, and their associated syntactic properties, and observe the
effect that those properties have on a given sentence's acceptability. In this
way, CS becomes a tool of linguistic analysis. 
Data comes from Spanish-English CS. Both Spanish and English exhibit a
phenomenon known as subject-version, in which the subject is sometimes
required to appear after the verb or auxiliary, but the structural
requirements vary by language and include various factors. This raises two
important questions that are the focus of this dissertation: (i) what head or
phrase ultimately determines the word order (i.e. the grammatical subject
positions) in a given wh-question? and (ii) what are the restrictions on
code-switching between the complementizer head, the tense head, and the
To answer these questions, a controlled experiment was conducted in which
participants provided written acceptability judgments for both CS and
equivalent monolingual sentences. In response to the first question, the
results of this dissertation provide evidence that the complementizer is
ultimately responsible for determining the properties of inversion for a given
wh-question. Regarding the second question, the results also provides evidence
for restrictions on code-switching between C and T and C and the wh-phrase. In
particular, it provides evidence that a code-switch between an English simple
wh-phrase and a Spanish C is ungrammatical in embedded questions with a
Spanish T. 
Additionally, this dissertation serves as one example of an experimental
approach to investigating code-switching, particularly with respect to
syntactic structure. There are a variety of different concerns that need to be
addressed in conducting such research, and this dissertation offers one
In conclusion, the combination of controlled experimental methods and the
unique analytical potential of CS to tease apart otherwise opaque syntactic
relationships makes for a valuable tool for addressing a wide range of
questions in theoretical linguistics.

LINGUIST List: Vol-25-3957	


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