On the Grammaticality of Passivization In Bilingual Compound Verbs

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Objectives/Research Questions: We examined stative and eventive passive bilingual compound verbs (BCVs) in Spanish/English code-switching. Of particular interest to us was the availability of passivization in bilingual eventive passive hacer “do” constructions, purportedly banned in bilingual speech due to a universal syntactic restriction.

Methodology: A total of 119 bilinguals from Northern Belize and 36 from Southwest United States completed a two-alternative forced-choice acceptability task and a language background questionnaire.

Data and Analysis: The analysis was conducted using Thurstone’s Law of Comparative Judgment.

Conclusion: For stative passive BCVs, results revealed that Spanish/English bilinguals from both contexts gave the highest ratings to code-switched constructions without the light verb hacer. For eventive passive BCVs, however, Belize bilinguals gave preferential ratings to passive constructions with the light verb hacer. Conversely, US bilinguals rejected them. Notably, among Belize bilinguals, eventive passive BCVs that were rated as most acceptable were constructions with no gender agreement between the light verb and the feminine antecedent noun.

Originality: This is the first cross-community analysis that investigates stative and eventive passive BCVs in Spanish/English code-switching.

Implications: Our findings show that the light verb hacer is compatible with both stative and eventive passive BCVs. Crucially, context-specific linguistic norms and social factors rather than a universal syntactic restriction primarily determine the availability of passivization in eventive passive BCVs. Our theorizing of code-switching grammars, thus, necessitates careful consideration of invariant and variable production patterns that are profoundly shaped by historical and sociolinguistic conditions.

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International Journal of Bilingualism

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