Syntactic Variation in Spanish: The Case of Interrogatives Caribbean Spanish

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Speaker(s): Francisco Ordóñez

Event Type: Lecture

Date and Time: Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 3:00pm

Location: Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Intercultural Center, 101, 37th and O St., N.W., Washington

Caribbean Spanish differs from other varieties of Spanish in word order in interrogatives. It exceptionally allows subject pronouns, preferably second person, to appear between the question word and the verb. This variation in the syntax highlights an important fact: Caribbean Spanish pronouns are not behaving like strong pronouns in other varieties.  I adopt Cardinaletti and Starke’s (1999) proposals and assume that Caribbean Spanish subject pronouns correspond to what they call weak pronouns. I show that that the exceptional word order in interrogatives is a product of the movement of the verb with these weak pronouns. In conclusion this work highlights the importance of the comparison between Spanish dialects to provide us with a better understanding of how our language works.

Francisco Ordóñez is a formal linguist specializing in the comparative study of the syntax of Spanish, its varieties, and other Romance languages such as Catalan, French, Italian, Sardinian, and Occitan dialects. His present research involves the study of the syntactic differences of the dialects of Spanish spoken in Latin America and Spain. In 2006 he received a three-year National Science Foundation Grant to study “Stress Patterns with Clitics and Weak Pronominals in Post-Verbal Position in Romance” with Lori Repetti. He also co-founded Romania Nova with Mary Kato of the Universidade de Campinas (Brazil). This projects explores varieties of Spanish and Portuguese spoken in Latin America. This collaboration has led to the 2016 book The Morphosyntax of Portuguese and Spanish in Latin America published by Oxford University Press with Mary Kato.