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Ling Fridays – Vasquez: Existentials & Locatives in Ibero-Romance

April 15, 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

To Be, You Need a Place: A Diachronic Outlook of Current Existential and Locative Expressions in Ibero-Romance

Luis Fernando Vazquez, UW-Madison, Spanish & Portuguese

This study explores the current situation of thetic (i.e., existential) and categorical (i.e., locative) propositions from the point of view of Ibero-Romance, mainly from a diachronic perspective through examples of Portuguese, Castilian, Aragonese, and Catalan from the 12th to the 15th centuries. Unlike other western Romance languages, some Ibero-Romance varieties, such as Portuguese and Castilian, lost the clitic particle that often accompanied expressions of presence (EPs) (Longa et al., 1998) (e.g., hy, hi, etc.). These languages implemented a tripartite system of copular verbs (ser, estar, haber) to represent various contextual domains, definiteness, and pragmatic saliency. We propose that before estar became a full copula integrated into the grammar of Portuguese and Castilian, the proform, from its adverbial roots, originated as the anaphor of a frame-setter, a resumptive pronoun of stage level topics with the property of recursiveness— capable of becoming the address and the delimitation of an event continually (Krifka, 2008b). Hence the relationship between existence and location. The proform played an essential role in supplementing the aspectual force of ser and haber for EPs denoting general existence, eventive existence, and pragmatic-bounded existence, first as an adverb, later as an overt silent argument functioning as a stage topic/semantic subject. Similar to Koch (2012), we will argue that the taxonomy of EPs depends mainly on the relevance and saliency in the information and not necessarily on word or constituent order. Therefore, only LCs with topical subjects and brand-new focalised loci are to be treated as genuinely thematic, whilst the rest of EPs need to be treated as rhematic due to the contextual deictic domain in which they are commonly uttered, often as a silent argument (see Erteschik-Shir, 1997; Krifka, 2008; Bentley & Cruschina, 2018).For the modern standard Ibero-Romance varieties, we propose three different EPs with estar post-proform; 1) setting-bounded presence (e.g., ‘There is a bird on the tree’), 2) eventive presence (e.g., There is a pig roasted), and 3) enumerative presence (e.g., There’s that restaurant we love) where the syntactic subject is not topic of the proposition (cf. Koch, 2012, p. 567). These expressions will be expounded throughout this study, along with the analysis of the diachronic development of EPs in Ibero-Romance.

Online: contact rashields@wisc.edu for link.


April 15, 2022
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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