Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics

Committee Chair

Sergio Robles-Puente

Committee Co-Chair

Sandra Stjepanovic

Committee Member

Sandra Stjepanovic

Committee Member

Jonah Katz


Codeswitching studies the boundaries that exist at all linguistic levels when a speaker switches between two or more languages in a single moment of speech.

(i) En el restaurante he pedido la big hamburguesa.

‘At the restaurant I have ordered the big hamburger.’

(ii) Juan conoce la highway para llegar a Washington D.C.

‘Juan knows the highway to get to Washington D.C.’

(iii) A Carmen no le gustan los pantalones cortos. A ella le gustan los long ones.

‘Carmen doesn’t like short pants. She likes the long ones.’

This thesis concentrates on the study of switches between adjectives and Noun Phrases (NPs) (i), determiners and NPs (ii) and ellipsis (iii) in English and Spanish that Heritage Language Learners of Spanish in the US deem acceptable. Previous work by Poplack (1980), Myers-Scotton (1992) or Garner (2009) show that there are constraints and rules that govern the types of switches shown in (i), (ii) and (iii).

The analysis of the Bangor Miami corpus data revealed that DPs are the most codeswitched phrases, while ellipsis is the least one. To verify these findings and to test the constraints and rules stated by the authors mentioned above, two tasks were administered to two groups: 15 Heritage Language Learners of Spanish and, for comparison purposes, 14 native speakers of Spanish, all of them living in the US at the moment of the experiment. The two tasks were an acceptability judgment task with 30 codeswitched sentences and a forced-choice task where a multiple choice was given between 4 codeswitching instances of adjectives and nouns. The results show that Heritage Language Learners find codeswitching more acceptable than native speakers of Spanish do and that preference is given to the agreement of the word order structure and the language of the sentence, that is, when the sentence is in Spanish the word order structure is: NPàN AdjP, without regard to the language of the noun or the adjective.