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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter (A) June 25, 2010

The semantic role of the wh-element and subject position in Spanish and Catalan

  • Aria Adli


This work presents experimental results on the position of the subject in wh-questions of the Spanish variety of Catalonia and of Catalan. Gradient acceptability judgments have been collected with a sample of native speakers, which were fairly balanced bilinguals. It is attempted to account for the striking similarity between the judgment patterns of the Spanish variety of Catalonia and Catalan, and to model at the same time the nuanced, but systematic differences. The similarities are explained by assuming the same set of rules or constraints, regarding the left-peripheral order of a shift topic and a focal element, and regarding the positional restrictions of subjects co-occurring with an argumental wh-element. However, the violation of a rule provokes slightly different degrees of markedness in Spanish and Catalan. This gradient phenomenon is captured by the idea that the violation of a rule comes with a specific cost, which can differ between languages, and that the degree of acceptability of a construction is a function of cumulative violation costs.

Published Online: 2010-06-25
Published in Print: 2010-06

© by Akademie Verlag, Berlin, Germany

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