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Syntactic Satiation and the Inversion Effect in English and Spanish Wh-Questions

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Abstract. 

Both English and Spanish exhibit an inversion effect in wh-questions: a verbal element must appear to the left of the subject. Analyses differ, however, as to whether this effect is due to similar syntactic mechanisms in the two languages or not. The phenomenon of judgment satiation, in which certain unacceptable sentence types improve upon repeated exposure, is used here to provide new evidence addressing this issue. It is shown that unacceptable wh-questions in Spanish are susceptible to satiation, but their counterparts in English are not, which suggests that different mechanisms are responsible for the inversion effect in the two languages. In addition to providing new evidence regarding the nature of inversion in wh-questions, this study also constitutes a test case for using satiation in the service of comparative syntax.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Grant GoodallUniversity of California, San DiegoDepartment of Linguistics9500 Gilman Drive, 0108La Jolla, CA 92093-0108USA, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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