Ideas buenas o buenas ideas: Phonological, semantic, and frequency effects on variable adjective ordering in rioplatense Spanish
Although linguistic research has often focused on one domain (e.g., as influenced by generative prioritization of the Autonomy of Syntax), critical findings have been uncovered by exploring the interaction of multiple domains (e.g., the link between morphological status and lateralization of /r/; the syntactic–pragmatic interface’s constraints on subject expression). The position of adjectives relative to the nouns they modify is a good test case in this discussion because multiple areas of the grammar are implicated, including syntax, phonology, and semantics. Moreover, research on this structure has yielded small cells, which prevented the use of statistical tests to convey the relative importance of multiple factors. Consequently, our study used a controlled, 24-item contextualized preference task to assess the roles of semantics (i.e., adjective class), phonology (i.e., noun–adjective syllable length differences), and lexical frequency on variable adjective ordering for 100 speakers of rioplatense Argentinean Spanish. Mixed-effects regression revealed that each factor was significant, with shorter, high-frequency, evaluative adjectives most favoring pre-position. Individual adjective analysis confirmed the greater effect of lexical frequency than semantic class, with additional corpora analyses further elucidating these trends. The study adds to the growing body of research on the role of factors across linguistic domains, while arguing for the importance of the relative frequency of adjective–noun collocations and complementing recent research on lexical effects.
World Languages and Cultures
Kanwit, M., & Terán, V. (2020). Ideas buenas o buenas ideas: Phonological, semantic, and frequency effects on variable adjective ordering in rioplatense Spanish. Languages, 5(4), 1-22.