New Benjamins title: Garcia - The Motivated Sntax of Arbitrary Signs

Paul Peranteau paul at
Wed Oct 21 18:21:31 UTC 2009

The Motivated Syntax of Arbitrary Signs.
Cognitive constraints on Spanish clitic clustering.

Erica C. García

Studies in Functional and Structural Linguistics 61
2009. xv, 335 pp.
Hardbound 978 90 272 1570 3 / EUR 105.00 / USD 158.00

This detailed study challenges the claim that syntax is arbitrary and 
autonomous, as well as the assumption that Spanish clitic clusters 
constitute grammaticalized units. Diverse--apparently 
unrelated--restrictions on clitic clustering in both simplex VP's and 
Accusative cum Infinitive structures are shown to be cognitively 
motivated, given the meaning of the individual clitics, and the 
compositional/interpretative routines those meanings motivate. The 
analysis accounts, in coherent and principled fashion, for the 
absolute non-occurrence of some clusters, and the 
interpretation-dependent acceptability of all remaining clitic 
combinations: cluster acceptability depends on the ease with which 
the given clitic combination can be processed to yield a congruent 
message; there is no point in combining clitics whose meanings 
preclude speedy processing of the cluster. The monograph goes beyond 
previous work on Spanish clitics in its wealth of data, the range of 
syntactic phenomena discussed, and its analytic scope.


Table of contents

Chapter 1. Introduction
Part I. The morphological roots of Spanish clitic syntax
Chapter 2. The problem: unacceptable clitic clusters
Chapter 3. The communicative value of clitic reference
Chapter 4. Basic clitic syntax
Chapter 5. Variable clitic-cluster acceptability
Chapter 6. Accounting for all the uses of Sp. se
Chapter 7. Accounting for the non-uses of Sp. se
Part II. Clitic distribution in complex Verb-Phrases
Chapter 8. The syntactic structure of AcI's
Chapter 9. Clitic syntax in AcI's
Chapter 10. Clitic placement in AcI's
Chapter 11. Complex role/referent allotment in AcI's
Chapter 12. Clitic placement in AcI and their look-alikes
Chapter 13. Summary and conclusions
Subject index
Author index

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