Diego Quesada dquesada at CHASS.UTORONTO.CA
Mon Feb 16 14:25:24 UTC 1998

Just a word on what

On Sun, 15 Feb 1998, Jon Aske wrote:

> If the syncretism was due to grammatical relation "congruence" (to
> give it a name), I would expect it to apply to all direct objects, not just
> to those with human referents.
        Of course; it has to start somewhere; from humans it will spread.
There are cases of 'le' referring to non-animate objects:

        (1) Desde alla no se le ve
            [From there you can't see it]

where 'le' can refer to any landmark (the crater of a volcano, the see, a
tuny island in the bay, etc.).

> What I see, rather, is a syncretism between datives and accusatives that
> share semantic properties of prototypical datives (humanness, affectedness,
> etc.).
        Well, this is exactly what is going on; that's why it comes a s a
surprise to me that you would expect all this to happen at once. For sure,
it's a recent development.

> We could call that the "enabling motivation" for the syncretism.
> Then the "communicative motivation" for the syncretism could be the fact
> that it enables the coding of an accusative nominal differently from a
> nominative one, something which can come in very handy, especially when the
> two have similar "semantic profiles" in a language with rather flexible word
> order (i.e. one driven by pragmatic, not grammatical, relations).
        This makes sense and is not incompatible at all with the fact that
'le-extension' has not gone very far yet (but which is in progress).


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