On nonce echo constructions expressing disapproval and annoyance
A contrastive analysis of colloquial phrases in English and Spanish
The aim of this paper is to explore and contrast the morphosyntactic and semantic features of two equivalent nonce echo constructions (NECs) expressing disapproval and annoyance (i.e. don’t (you) X me and ni X ni Y) in colloquial English and Spanish. A NEC is defined as a reactive clause containing duplicated words of the initiative, showing the property of nonceness, and having a communicative goal. Two types of NECs are found in both languages: an attitudinal echo construction and a referential one, the former being more idiomatic than the latter. Based on the premise that texts are necessarily dialogic, two sets of examples are obtained from English corpora (The Movie Corpus, The TV Corpus, and the Corpus of American Soap Operas); and from two Spanish corpora and a dataset (CREA, CORPES XXI, and the Dataset of Spanish Dialogic Texts Online). Findings suggest that both languages show negative and restricted syntactic templates. Variables are coinages that originate from the processes of conversion in English (e.g. don’t you John me) and gender polarity in Spanish (e.g. ni luna ni *luno). Hence, although both types of variables are morphologically novel and contextually meaningful, Spanish variables are generally ungrammatical and unlikely to exist outside the discursive frame under study.
Keywords: echo constructions, disapproval, nonceness, construction morphology, English/Spanish
Published online: 15 February 2021
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