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Linguistics Seminar: Rodrigo Delgado (UIUC)

Event Type
Department of Linguistics
FLB 1080 Lucy Ellis Lounge
Mar 6, 2023   4:00 - 5:00 pm  
Rodrigo Delgado, Assistant Professor (UIUC, Spanish and Portuguese)
Sofya Styrina
Originating Calendar
Linguistics Event Calendar

Talk title: The mesa: a phonetic analysis of English/Spanish code-switched determiner phrases

Abstract: Code-switching between Spanish and English within the DP yields two choices: an English determiner + Spanish noun DP (e.g., 'the mesa') and a Spanish determiner + English noun DP (e.g., 'la table'). There is a production asymmetry with regards to these two DPs— 'the mesa' is pronounced much less frequently than 'la table'. Some researchers have tried to account for this asymmetry by analyzing 'the mesa' as an unacceptable code-switch (Burkholder, 2018; Moro Quintanilla, 2014). However, we can formally account for 'the mesa' as acceptable (López, 2007; Preminger, 2014). The puzzle of why 'the mesa' is infrequent remains. In this paper, we account for this asymmetry by postulating a phonetic constraint on 'the mesa' that is not present on 'la table'. We claim that the head n determines what externalization system is used and that the domain in which n has an effect is the phonological word. In the case of 'the mesa', the entire DP is one phonological word and, due to the with the gender feature, the entire DP is sent to the Spanish externalization system, thus resulting in the constraint that the entire DP must be pronounced with Spanish phonetics. To test our claims, we recruited Spanish/English balanced bilinguals to perform a modified director/matcher task. Our results show that n does indeed dictate what externalization system is used (though it is not the only factor) and the domain in which n dictates the phonetic structure is limited to the phonological word in which it is present.

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