Adverbs in Spanish-English code-switching: Comparing verb raising and non-raising

Article published in the International Journal of Bilingualism.

Using generative syntactic theory regarding verb raising, predictions are made about adverb position in intra-sentential Spanish– English code-switching. Since both languages allow for non-raising, pre-verbal adverbs should be acceptably switched. However, since verb raising is only available in Spanish, post-verbal adverbs should only be allowed with a Spanish finite verb.

Spanish–English early bilinguals (n=24) completed a written acceptability judgment task with a 7-point Likert-type scale. The Spanish–English code-switched sentences contained a finite verb switched with a post-verbal or pre-verbal adverb. In addition, comparison sets of monolingual equivalents were tested, targeting adverb order in Spanish and English.

A total of 192 judgments were included in the analysis, and z-scores of the mean ratings provided by the participants were calculated. After a descriptive analysis of the results compared language and adverb order, statistical analyses were conducted via analyses of variance (ANOVAs).

Participants showed a preference for non-raising in English, while they accepted both orders in Spanish, but only with adverbs of completion and manner. For code- switching, non-raising was always acceptable, but verb raising varied. The availability of switched non-raising directly follows from the literature. However, the language of the finite verb did not predict availability of verb raising in code-switching. The results suggest that the language of the adverb is crucial to the availability of switching, not solely the verb.

The status of adverbs in code-switching has been left relatively unexplored. This study provides important details regarding adverb position both in mixed Spanish–English utterances and in monolingual contexts for this particular bilingual population.

These findings have a broader impact by providing data about adverb-position preferences in Spanish for a different community of speakers. In particular, it shows even more variability in the idiosyncratic behavior of different adverbs in Spanish.

doi: 10.1177/13670069211057955

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