Ergativity and objects in Spanish

Diego Quesada dquesada at CHASS.UTORONTO.CA
Tue Feb 17 20:47:53 UTC 1998

        I will merely clarify two things:

On Tue, 17 Feb 1998, Ricardo Maldonado wrote:

> Now, I am glad Clancy found the same type of reaction from native speakers
> about the naturalness of
> "Juan le presenta Luisa a Marta". Since Diego said that "> (1) sounds
> perfectly unmarked and natural to my Costa Rican native competence" I
> thought there would be an interesting dialect contrast between Mexico and
> Spain vs Costa Rica. However I checked with Costa Rican friends at the
> University of Casta Rica and the example was rejected or seen as rather
> strange by everyone.
        The example (1) that sounded- -and still sounds- perfectly natural
to me is not the one from Clancy: "Juan le..." but rather the one below:

> Now, about Diego´s example
> >
> >        (1) La amenaza de confiscarles los indios...

        Yes, this one.

> >Unless one would take the rather racist and odd view that 'indios' does
> >not refer to referents which are human, topical, but which in the case of
> >(1) compete for topicality with the referents of 'le' [los encomenderos],
> >there is no way to account for the absence of 'a' in (1).
> I would like to know when was this written beacuse the racist interpretation
> may be in fact quite insightful. Recent analysis by Marcela Flores on LE/Lo
> contrast (there is a paper submitted to Romance Philology) where she proves
> that in Colonial Spanish there are important contrasts in which LO is in
> fact used to refer to people of lower status whereas LE is used for those in
> upper scales of Colonial society. Indians were referred by Spaniards, as we
> can all expect, with LO not with LE. Chances are Diego´s example could have
> the same or similar (racist) motivation.

        The text was written in 1993 by Elizabeth Fonseca, a CR historian
very much against the abuses of the conquista, so the racist explanation
is N/A.

> Since the text
> cited by Diego is a hisotrical source maybe he can help us with more
> information about it.
        See above.



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