Variación diacrónica en los procesos de gramaticalización y lexicalización de locuciones preposicionales en español

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


This thesis is a proposal to rethink the characteristics that have so far defined what is known as prepositional locutions, through the analysis of a delimited inventory based on somatic nouns. The work begins with an exhaustive review of the evolution of these core nouns in Spanish dictionaries to observe how the abstract meanings of each word are established and also how the phraseological units that include them have been lexicalized, which often indirectly give indications of the existence or origin of the prepositional phrases that we study. Next, by a diachronic study in the CORDE, we can see how the noun cara originates de cara a; pie becomes the nucleus of the multiple locutions al pie de, en pie de, a los pies de and a pie de; espalda generates the interesting contrast between a espaldas de and de espaldas a; as well as frente, which is the nucleus of the same inverted pair frente a and al frente de. Furthermore, from cabeza we have en/a la cabeza de; from mano, a/en/por/de manos de and, finally, from boca, arise en/por/de boca de. Although all these sequences correspond to the pattern recognized as the most productive for the formation of prepositional phrases "which is defined as the combination of a preposition, a nominal nucleus and a second preposition" our hypothesis is that the degree of unity as prepositional pieces that these constructions reach is directly related to the internal structure with which they are formed. This includes the metaphorical potential of the noun that functions as the nucleus and, in addition, the characteristics and evolution that the chosen prepositions undergo at the same time. The convergence of these meanings is the essential factor for reaching advanced degrees of grammaticalization, that is, integration in the prepositional paradigm, and it is what explains the imposition of certain forms on other variants, and the semantic evolution experienced by the sequences once they are fixed as relational. Specifically, the results of this thesis are summarized in two central contributions to the understanding and definition of the category of prepositional phrases. On the one hand, the guidelines that define them are broken down and, on the other, some of the criteria previously outlined as evidence of its existence as a category are questioned, in particular that of absolute syntactic fixation and stability. In view of this, we propose the idea of a fixation that is not formal but conceptual, from which everything from adverbial uses to the insertion of possessives are included and interpreted as inherent characteristics of the category.
Date of Award21 Jul 2020
Original languageSpanish
SupervisorCarlos Sanchez Lancis (Director) & Cristina Buenafuentes de la Mata (Director)


  • Prepositional phrases
  • Grammaticalization

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