Predicados complejos con le en español mexicano

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


This doctoral thesis looks at the formation of complex predicates which are accompanied by the dative clitic le in Mexican Spanish, or what may be called le-predicates, from the framework of generative linguistics. At first sight, this type of complex predicate might appear to belong to the group of idiomatic predicates exemplified by ándale. Nevertheless, a more careful examination of the systematic nature of their formation shows us that their study is best carried out from a derivational and compositional perspective. By way of illustration, some common examples of le-predicates are abrirle, cerrarle, estirarle, cortarle, rasparle, apretarle, limpiarle, moverle, menearle, tocarle, olerle, escribirle, pintarle, buscarle, respirarle, correrle, bailarle, toserle, trabajarle, salirle, entrarle, saltarle and llegarle.
There are three linguistic properties of the le-predicates that underline their importance from a linguistic point of view. i) The clitic that appears in the le-predicate context is clearly distinct from the canonical singular third person dative pronoun le. ii) In these complex predicates, the clitic le introduces a new meaning to the predication. iii) Finally, a le-predicate may be formed using verbal bases from different verbal classes, but the combination of the verb with le always yields predicates with the same grammatical properties.
In this thesis we undertake our exploration of the formation of le-predicates from the standpoint of the identification and definition of their constituents and the mechanisms involved in their composition.
In Chapter 1, we introduce the basic notions that will help us to understand the le-predicate phenomenon. We define the basic descriptive features of these complex predicates in section 1.1. In 1.2 a general overview is provided of the evolution of the clitic le relative to the DATIVE category; we describe the process of grammaticalization that le undergoes by which it acquires the denotation of a new semantic value which we will define as the property locus (; we establish the morphosyntactic status of le (; and then, basing ourselves on Cuervo (2003), we introduce the analysis upon which we will build our own proposal (1.2.2). In 1.3, we discuss the various analyses which have been proposed thus far to account for the le-predicate construction: a) that offered by Masullo (1989), who analyses le-constructions as antipassive constructions (1.3.1), and b) that put forth by Torres Cacoullos (2002), who proposes that le is a verbal intensifier (1.3.2). Finally, to close the chapter, in section 1.4 we elaborate on the relevant descriptive properties of what we have defined as le-predicates.
The aim of Chapter 2 is to examine the productive character of le-predicates and demonstrate their derivational nature. In order to do this, we will explore the lexical properties of the verbal bases that may be subject to this phenomenon, as well as identify the lexical components and restrictions which play a role in the formation of the le-predicates. In 1.1, we introduce the properties of le-predictes in relation to the lexical status of their verbal bases. In 2.2, we analyse the issue through the lens of various lexical approaches, in order to determine which of these approaches best allows us to identify the relevant properties of verbal bases. In this regard it is of interest to examine, on the one hand, the compatibility of le with the ontological aspects of the events denoted by the verbs (2.2.2), and on the other, the compatibility of le with the syntactic aspects of lexical structures (2.2.3). In 2.3, we offer a classification of verbal bases that reflects the work of Demonte (2002), Mateu (2002), Levin & Rappaport (1995) and Rappaport & Levin (1998). In each subsection here we will ascertain the possibilities that each verbal base offers for the formation of a le-predicate, as well as the interpretative and grammatical effects that ensue.
In Chapter 3, we define the syntactic mechanisms that license the formation of the le-predicates, defining the formal relationships that are set up between the components of the VP and le. In 3.1 and in 3.2, we introduce the properties of le-predicates that are relevant to this chapter. In 3.3, we propose that, as a result of morphosyntactic changes in le, this clitic introduces a functional relationship that is different from that of a dative head. We label this new projection LeP. In 3.4, we examine the syntactic relationships that LeP maintains with the external argument of the predicate and the internal arguments of the verbal bases. Regarding the external argument, we claim that le causes the licensing of the external argument of VoiceP as AGENT (3.4.1), while in terms of the internal argument of transitive verbal bases, we propose basing ourselves here on Kallulli (2006) that le brings about the intransitivization of the verbal base (3.4.2). This intransitivization in turn leads to the demotion of the internal argument, which is reanalysed as an adjunct of the functional projection LeP, an adjunct which co-appears with the le-predicate in the form of a+DP (3.4.3).
In Chapter 4, we propose the operation of the semantic composition of le-predicates. In 4.1, we deal with the properties of these le-predicates that are most important in terms of their semantics. In 4.2, we establish the semantic denotation of the le nucleus. In 4.3, we analyse the various operations put forth in the linguistics literature to explain the semantic modification of events by a syntactic element, operations such as Semantic Incorporation (4.3.1) or Restriction (4.3.2). In 4.4, we define our own theoretical semantic proposal, according to which we suggest that the property locus modifies the event of the verbal base, and this modification gives rise to a single but syntactically complex denotational unit. We propose that the composition of le-predicates involves a sort of Semantic Pseudo Incorporation. In the course of 4.4, we review the basic properties of this operation. Finally, in 4.5, we illustrate the formal semantic aspects of our proposal.
As an epilogue to this thesis, we include an appendix with several observations on the discursive character of the le-predicate constructions and their relationship with other phenomena (e.g. topicalization, differential object marking and right dislocation), issues that we regard as our most immediate line of further research.
Date of Award16 Apr 2009
Original languageSpanish
SupervisorM. Teresa Espinal Faré (Director)

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