Article published in:New Perspectives on the Study of Ser and E star
Edited by Isabel Pérez-Jiménez, Manuel Leonetti and Silvia Gumiel-Molina
[Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics 5] 2015
► pp. 203–236
On word order in Spanish copular sentences
This paper deals with the interaction between the ser/estar distinction and word order. In Spanish the VSX order imposes a thetic, wide focus interpretation (Leonetti, 2014a). This word order pattern is compatible with estar predication. In contrast, ser predication is typically excluded with VSX in spoken Spanish, with the only exception of a small set of cases that share an exclamative/mirative/ emphatic interpretation. The well-formedness of estar VSX sentences can be explained assuming that thetic constructions always include a stage topic: as estar requires the predication to be dependent on a topical situation (Maienborn, 2005), and such situation is identified as a possible stage topic, the conditions for a thetic interpretation are easily met. With ser, in contrast, the predication is not connected to a topical situation, and thus cannot be linked to a stage topic. Exceptions are accounted for by invoking a strategy of mismatch resolution that leads the hearer to interpret the utterance as a manifestation of an exclamative/mirative attitude.
Keywords: individual-level, information structure, stage-level, thetic, word order
Published online: 28 October 2015
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