Tuesday 17 May – Maria del Carmen Parafita Couto

NB. Different day, different room

Speaker: Maria del Carmen Parafita Couto*  (Leiden University)

Title: Ungrammatical configuration: experimental evidence from code-switching

Date: Tuesday 17 May

Venue: Van Eyckhof 1/003C

Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs

 *Joint work with Luis López (University of Illinois at Chicago) and Hans Stadthagen González (University of Southern Mississippi)


In this talk we discuss some recent results that contribute to our understanding of ungrammaticality in the realm of syntactic dependencies. Within generative grammar, a failed dependency has traditionally been accounted for in terms of (i) unvalued features on the goal, (ii) the probe or (iii) a combination of both. We propose a fourth hypothesis: the perception of a dependency as ungrammatical is a diffuse property of the items contained in the domain of the dependency. We utilize experimental code-switching data, which provides the necessary granularity to test the role of various factors in the breakdown of a dependency. We report on results from a two-alternative forced choice judgment task (analyzed by applying Thurstone’s (1927) Law of Comparative Judgment) in which Spanish-English bilingual subjects were asked to choose among different options that would violate Stowell’s (1981) Adjacency Condition. Our results lend support to the fourth hypothesis.

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