An investigation of unaccusativity and word order in Mexican Spanish
Studies of unaccusativity and word order in Spanish have yielded conflicting results. This study further investigates unaccusativity by testing the ability of the ‘Auxiliary Selection Hierarchy’ (Sorace 2000) to account for word orders with intransitive predicates in Mexican Spanish. The results of an oral production task show significant word order differences between verb categories and locate an unergative/unaccusative cutoff point midway along the hierarchy, situating unaccusativity in Spanish as being similar to Italian but trending in the direction of Dutch or French. Other variables affecting the word order are identified and ranked, including subject heaviness, definiteness, and the location of adverbial phrases. Greater inter-speaker variation at the syntax-discourse interface when compared with the syntax-lexicon interface shows that the Interface Hypothesis has application to native speakers of Spanish. The results of this study are important for current research on unaccusativity and syntactic interfaces.
Keywords: unaccusativity, word order, interfaces
Published online: 31 May 2018
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