Ricardo Maldonado msoto at SERVIDOR.UNAM.MX
Thu Feb 12 16:12:53 UTC 1998

This may come a bit late in the discussionof ergativity. I could not send it
becuase, for some reason, I could only recieve but not send messages to the
net. I hope some of you are still interested in the topic.

I agree with Jon Aske´s  comments and would like to add a minor piece of

Assuming that Spanish is a Primary-Secondary Object Language based on a
quite artificial example as  *Juan presenta Luisa a Marta*may be inadqeuate.
The deletion of the preposition "a" is simply not the most common strategy
in Spanish.
The Speaker can either keep both "a"s or use other strategies. Let me give
more natural examples for that type of structure. Instead of *Juan presenta
Luisa a Marta* I would say

1) "Juan le presento´ a Luisa a Marta"

I should stress that for most dialects of Spanish the clitic "le" is
required. Ambiguity is noramlly resolved by the assuming normal DO, IO word
order. Now it is true that double "a" is commonly avoided, however the
deletion of the Direct Object "a" is not the first strategy at all. In fact
the most transparent way to disambiguate would be 2:

2) Juan presento´ a Luisa con Marta "Juan introduced Luisa with Marta"

where the IO becomes an Oblique and the DO preserves the "a" preposition.

Given that in Spanish you can either keep both "a" prepositions, demote the
IO to an oblique or, in a less natural manner, delete the DO "a" the
strength of the argument should be taken with a grain of salt.

By the way *Visito a Paris* 'I visit Paris' is also very strange I would say
*Visite´ Paris hace seis meses* "I visited Patris six months ago" No "a"
there. The inclusion of the preposition "a" would impose a reading where
Paris is affected by my visit.  I must be missing something here because I
cannot see how this could be an argument for an Ergative interpretation.

Finally, I am not clear about what Clancy Clements  means by the relevance
of  LEISMO to this specific topic and how that would constitute an argument
for an ergative interpretation of intransitives. I would be very interested
to know his reasoning on this topic.

Ricardo Maldonado
Instituto de Investigaciones Filologicas, UNAM
2a de Cedros 676, Jurica
Mexico, Queretaro 76100
tel (52) (42) 18 02 64
fax (52) (42) 18 68 78
msoto at

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