Que es un good code-switch? Testing the Functional Head Constraint within Noun Phrases


The Functional Head Constraint (Rubin and Toribio, 1994) states that no code-switch is allowed between a functional head and its complement. This was tested in an experiment with Spanish/English code-switched sentences. Subjects in the experiments were native speakers of Spanish (N=21), who were proficient English speakers, and had learned English during adulthood. The experiment used the Matching Task described in Freedman and Forster (1985). In this procedure, two sentences are presented sequentially on a computer screen, and are kept on the screen for 2 milliseconds. Subjects press a "yes" button or a "no" button to indicate whether the sentences on the screen are identical. In this experiment, three conditions were used: condition 1, where the determiner and the noun were Spanish; condition 2, where the determiner was Spanish and the noun was English; and condition 3, where both the determiner and the noun were English. Grammaticality of the code-switch was established by comparing matching times on all SAME items for the two conditions. Here, condition 2 violates the functional head constraint; thus, matching times for this condition should be significantly slower than for conditions 1 and 3. The results obtained are interpreted under the Minimalist Program of Chomsky (1992).

How to Cite

Dussias, P. E. & Courtney, E., (1994) “Que es un good code-switch? Testing the Functional Head Constraint within Noun Phrases”, Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching 2, 1-13.







Paola E. Dussias (University of Arizona)
Ellen Courtney (University of Arizona)



Publication details



Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

File Checksums (MD5)

  • PDF: dbc36da2474b0605adba78d0ebd97858