Constructions of uncontrolled state or event
The increase in productivity of a new argument structure in Old Spanish
Spanish and other Romance languages inherited from Latin the seeds of a new construction that is common to the syntax of some verbs belonging to the field of emotions, feelings, pain or modality. The semantic values of this construction are strange to prototypical transitivity and are coupled with a marked argument structure, compared with the more common transitive sentence.In the early centuries of the history of Spanish only a few verbs were integrated in the new scheme, which could receive an experience, modal or quantitative meaning, depending on an analogical association with certain frequent verbs. As the construction gained productivity, the importance of these few specific verbs as models for the newly integrated ones was reduced and the construction as a whole was understood in a more general sense of uncontrolled state or event.This paper provides a history of the construction in its different stages and tries to uncover the mechanism and factors that favored the increase in its productivity over the centuries. It also attempts to understand these facts from a typological standpoint, as an effect of some kind of a transitivity split that took place in Old Spanish, which gave rise to a type of marked construction, associated to some specific verbs.
Keywords: analogy, transitivity, productivity, split alignment, constructions
Published online: 10 February 2012
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