Switching at no cost: Exploring Spanish-English codeswitching using the response-contingent sentence matching task
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe Functional Head Constraint (Belazi, Rubin and Toribio, 1994) states that codeswitching is not allowed between a functional head and its complement. This predicts that switches between determiners and noun phrase complements, complementizers and inflected clausal (IP) complements, and auxiliaries and verb phrase complements should be ungrammatical. Conversely, the proposed constraint predicts that verb-complement and preposition-complement switches should be grammatical. This study tested four of these five predictions, using codeswitched Spanish/English sentences which met or violated the Functional Head Constraint. The subjects were Spanish-English bilinguals who had learned both languages before the age of six and who use both languages in their daily lives. Data were collected using the Response-Contingent Matching Task (Stevenson, 1992). Subjects read a sentence displayed on a computer screen and press a button when the reading is completed. They then read a second sentence aligned below the first one and press one of two buttons to indicate whether the two sentences on the screen are the SAME or DIFFERENT. Grammaticality of the codeswitch was established by comparing reading times on all SAME sentences. The sentences that violated the Functional Head Constraint were expected to receive significantly longer reading times than the sentences which comply with the constraint. The results obtained do not support the predictions made by the Functional Head Constraint, but do confirm the validity of the task procedure. The findings are compared with naturalistic data and are interpreted using the Minimalist Theory of Chomsky (1991 and 1992).
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching