Edited by Ilja A. Seržant and Leonid Kulikov
[Studies in Language Companion Series 140] 2013
► pp. 203–230
The me pudet construction in the history of Latin
why and how fast non-canonical subjects come and go
In this paper I investigate the diachronic development and downfall of the me ACC pudet 3SG ‘I am ashamed’ construction in Latin, with a view to exploring the factors that played a significant role in the process of constructional analogization that lead this impersonal pattern to be reinterpreted as personal and transitive over centuries. By comparing the kind of stimuli typically associated with the pudet-type verbs and their specific meaning, I show that they differ in view of different degrees of agentivity and volitionality exerted by the experiencer. Paenitet ‘to repent’ reveals itself as being the most agentive verb and this is why it underwent an early process of personalization, achieved only later by those verbs whose semantics entailed a lower degree of rational involvement and control over the experience. This paper shows that semantic factors may influence the formal coding of a given verb-specific role, accelerate its syntactic reinterpretation and lead to constructional changes.