The representation of gender in the mind of Spanish-English bilinguals: Insights from code-switched Adjectival Predicates
Keywords:Spanish-English bilinguals, gender in code-switching, double-feature valuation mechanism, agreement, concord, directionality in feature checking, analogical criterion
AbstractThis study examines bilinguals’ gender use strategies in code-switched agreement (i.e. the moon is bonita) and concord (i.e. la moon) structures. Thirty-five L1 Spanish-L2 English adult bilinguals and 43 L1 English-L2 Spanish adults with an intermediate (N=18) or advanced (N=25) level of proficiency in Spanish completed an acceptability judgment task in which they rated code-switched Adjectival Predicates and DPs. The results show that only the L1 Spanish-L2 English bilinguals prefer the Adj (in the case of agreement) or the D (in the case of concord) to be marked for the gender of the Spanish translation equivalent of the English N, but that all groups rate agreement structures higher than concord structures. Both of these findings corroborate previous work on intrasentential code-switching, however, this is the first study to offer an account for the contrast in processing difficulty between agreement and concord structures. We argue that this difference can be explained in terms of the way in which the features are valued in agreement and in concord. Under the double-feature valuation mechanism (Liceras et al., 2008) in agreement both features are valued in a single direction, while in concord the features are valued in two different directions. It is this unidirectionality of the feature valuation mechanism in agreement that makes code-switched agreement structures such as Adjectival Predicates easier to process.
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