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Spiderwoman/ mujer araña: N-N compounds and structural symmetry. A view from bilingual heritage speakers.

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posted on 2024-06-09, 19:21 authored by Jose CamachoJose Camacho
This paper tests the hypothesis that N-N combinations (N-N word compounds and phrasal compounds) share a common underlying structural symmetry that needs to be dissolved through movement of one of the nouns. Certain types of N-N combinations are in complementary distribution in Spanish and English: N-N compounds are more productive in English, N-preposition-N compounds more productive in Spanish, and certain N-N compounds with the meaning of coordination of the nouns are possible in both languages. Bilingual heritage speakers of Spanish with English as the majority language have access to the English-type N-N compound, the Spanish-type NPN phrasal compound and the coordinated N-N type in both languages. Assuming that all three types start out as symmetric mergers of two nouns, we test whether bilinguals will prefer one of the symmetry-breaking strategies by using an acceptability judgement task. First, we found a certain degree of cross-linguistic influence in the higher acceptance of N-N compounds in Spanish vs. English. Second, participants preferred structures that have P (de), which we interpreted as the most salient strategy to break the N-N symmetry. We conclude that symmetry-breaking is a highly ranked preference for bilinguals as a result of having two active grammars.

History

Citation

Camacho, J. (n.d.). Spiderwoman/ mujer araña: N-N compounds and structural symmetry. A view from bilingual heritage speakers. Volume 9, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.16995/glossa.11055

Publisher

Open Library of the Humanities

issn

2397-1835

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