Verb subcategorization frequency (i.e. verb bias), defined as the tendency of a verb to appear with a certain type of complement, has been employed in psycholinguistic studies as a tool to test competing models of sentence processing. To test the generality of such theories, it is important to conduct cross-linguistic research, but little is known about verb bias in languages other than English. Using 20th century Peninsular Spanish corpus data from the Corpus del Español (Davies, 2002-), the verb subcategorization frequencies for 10 highly frequent Spanish verbs were examined and compared to the results reported in a recent norming study of 135 Spanish verbs (Dussias, Marful, Gerfen and Bajo, 2010). For seven of the ten verbs, results from the corpus analysis match closely with the results of the norming study; three of the verbs, however, displayed different behavior. Reasons for these differences are discussed in terms of their importance for establishing Spanish verb bias norms for use in psycholinguistic research. Furthermore, the factors influencing the selection of a particular complement type across and within verbs were examined using multivariate analysis. Presence of an indirect object has a significant effect on the selection of a direct object rather than a sentential complement. An interesting trend is observed in the form of the subject, where proper nouns appear to behave more like reduced forms than like the full, definite NPs with which they are usually grouped, which has implications for Preferred Argument Structure (Du Bois, 1987).
Selected Proceedings of the 14th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Kimberly Geeslin and Manuel Díaz-Campos
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