Reconsidering the syntax of interrogatives in Caribbean Spanish, with special reference to Dominican Spanish

Zimmermann, Michel
This paper readdresses one of the most conspicuous syntactic traits of varieties of Caribbean Spanish that has been on the research agenda ever since its detection almost a hundred years ago: the preverbal occurrence of subjects in interrogatives with a simple non-subject argumental wh-expression. In an attempt to shed more light on the still highly controversial issues of the frequency of whSV order and the kind(s) of preverbal subject, the paper initially gathers relevant claims as well as examples from the literature and then presents pertinent results from a refined large-scale quantitative analysis of natural speech from colloquial Dominican Spanish, hereby filling a long-standing lacuna. Additionally, the paper discusses previous approaches, showing that none of these are free from problems. Drawing on relevant aspects of earlier approaches and building on insights into the fairly related state of affairs in medieval French, the paper eventually argues that whSV order in Dominican, and by extension, other pertinent varieties of Caribbean Spanish, follows from ongoing morpho-syntactic changes that are taken to ultimately result in the resetting of the null subject parameter: the development of a paradigm of weak subject pronouns, the concomitant establishment of a dedicated subject position, SpecTP, and the overall strong tendency towards SV order ​
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