NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED534437
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 415
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1249-8043-0
Unaccusativity and Word Order in Mexican Spanish: An Examination of Syntactic Interfaces and the Split Intransitivity Hierarchy
Roggia, Aaron B.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University
Recent research in language contact has investigated bilingual deviations from monolingual norms where syntax interfaces with the lexical and discourse components of the grammar (e.g. Iverson & Rothman 2008; Lozano 2006; Montrul 2004, 2005; Sorace & Filiaci 2006; Tsimpli et al. 2004). Such studies generally show that the "external" syntax-discourse interface displays more optionality in language contact and is more vulnerable to attrition than the "internal" syntax-lexicon interface, and this is termed the "Interface Vulnerability Hypothesis" (see Dominguez, 2009; Montrul, 2011). This dissertation further investigates the syntax-lexicon and syntax-discourse interfaces through a study of word order with unaccusative and unergative predicates in different focus contexts for native speakers of Bajio Mexican Spanish. The factors that constrain subject-verb or verb-subject word order in Spanish have been the subject of previous studies (e.g. Bolinger, 1991; Delbecque, 1988; Silva-Corvalan, 1982), and the word order of intransitive verbs has recently received attention in studies using variationist approaches (e.g. Rivas, 2008; Mayoral Hernandez, 2006; Ocampo, 2005) and structuralist approaches (e.g. Hertel, 2000; Hertel & Perez-Leroux, 1998; Lozano, 2003, 2006a; Montrul, 2005a, 2005b, 2006). A number of lexical and discourse-related factors have been reported to constrain the variable use of preverbal or postverbal subjects with intransitive verbs, but they are often overlooked in studies of word order, and other relevant factors, such as the "Auxiliary Selection Hierarchy" (Sorace, 2000, 2004), a continuum of lexico-semantic notions underlying unaccusativity, have not been thoroughly investigated. The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate language-internal and language-external factors that may constrain word order variation at the syntax-lexicon and syntax-discourse interfaces in Bajio Mexican Spanish. For this study, an oral production task and an acceptability judgment task were administered to native speakers of Bajio Mexican Spanish residing near Irapuato, Mexico, and the results for 29 participants were included in the analyses. The results of these tasks reveal instability at both the syntax-discourse and syntax-lexicon interfaces and show that focus type, definiteness, subject NP weight, the position of adverbial phrases, and the verb categories of the "Auxiliary Selection Hierarchy" significantly favor particular word orders. Previously unnoticed verbal constructions that relate to word order are identified, and it is also suggested that cyclical migrants may influence the word order of Bajio Mexican Spanish. This dissertation is an important addition to current research because it identifies, tests, and ranks several language-internal and language-external variables for their effects on word order at the syntax-lexicon and syntax-discourse interfaces. In addition, the Interface Vulnerability Hypothesis is shown to be relevant for native speakers of Spanish living in Mexico because more word order variation is found to occur for these speakers at the syntax-discourse interface than at the syntax-lexicon interface in the production task. The results of this study do lend support for the Interface Vulnerability Hypothesis, but also show times in which "external" interfaces may show less word order variation than "internal" interfaces. This research makes a significant contribution to studies of unaccusativity in Spanish by comparing and reanalyzing the results of previous studies of unaccusativity in Spanish and by noticing parallels with historical changes and contact Spanish. This study also demonstrates that the "Auxiliary Selection Hierarchy" can help to explain word order in Spanish and should be termed the "Split Intransitivity Hierarchy" because of its cross-linguistic application. A "cutoff point" or transition zone between unergativity and unaccusativity is found for Spanish that situates Spanish crosslinguistically as being similar to Italian, but not yet like Dutch or French. A list of twenty proposed tests for unaccusativity in Spanish is also compiled for future research. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Mexico