The paper provides a functional, usage-based analysis of the genesis and diffusion of object clitic doubling in Spanish, which is seen as an agreement phenomenon, and hence as a working example of grammaticalization. It has been claimed that doubling arises from the so-called topic-shift construction (Givón 1976), but historical and contemporary data support an alternative proposal that pays more attention to frequency effects and takes into account the often neglected high proportion of clitic-only objects in discourse. Our analysis suggests a strong correlation between being an object encoded frequently by means of a clitic/affix and developing agreement It also points to the accessibility of the discourse referents as the main factor in determining the grammatical form of direct and indirect objects in Spanish.
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