13.1090, Sum: Spanish Verb Particles

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Fri Apr 19 23:08:55 UTC 2002

LINGUIST List:  Vol-13-1090. Fri Apr 19 2002. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 13.1090, Sum: Spanish Verb Particles

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Date:  Tue, 16 Apr 2002 21:54:59 EDT
From:  Kurtgjevnoe at aol.com
Subject:  Spanish particle verbs

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  Tue, 16 Apr 2002 21:54:59 EDT
From:  Kurtgjevnoe at aol.com
Subject:  Spanish particle verbs

Dear linguists,
    On the 10 april this year I posted a question to the following effect:

    "The problem this time is the usage of the preposition 'a' when it
follows a verb as a part of the same verbal expression ( i.e., as a particle
verb where the particle (the preposition) is an integral part of the nucleus
of the predicate.)  Examples are 'voy a' (immediate future), 'aprendo a' and
'empiezo a'.  In speech, the preposition will disappear through fusion with
an infinitive if this begins with the vowel  'a' (or 'ha'), which feels
rather natural..  Examples are "ya voy hacerlo", "aprendió hablar" and
"empezó aclarar".  In writing, however, this usage is irritating.  I should
prefer "ya voy a hacerlo" , "aprendió a hablar" y "empezó a aclarar". I have
observed the fusion in narration by varios writers and I haven't liked it.
What I do not find in any grammar book (asking native speakers is a hopeless
venture, of course) is a norm that would permit or describe which usage is
the most correct in writing."

    I've received very useful responses from the following:
        Lee Hartman
        Earl Herrick
        José Luis Mendivil Giro
        Karl Reinhardt
        Miguel Rodríguez-Mondoñedo
        Juan C. Ruiz Guillermo Soto and
        Stanley Whitley
to whom my best thanks go.

    In sum,  the subject (ab)use    of Spanish was considered either
unimaginable or reprehensible, Lee Hartman proved from a frequencyanalysis in
a population of more than 3000 examples in Corpus de Referencia de la Lengua
Española Contemporánea that the usage is found to be extremely rare.  He
refers to Charles Kany ("American-Spanish Syntax", Chicago, 1951), who is
also quoted by Manuel Seco in "Diccionario de dudas de la lengua española",
Madrid, 1992 as pointed out by Miguel Rodríguez-Mondoñedo.  I quote Lee
Hartman:  "...Kany (1951:333-334), who points out that in Old Spanish the _a_
was "not required" with an infinitive after a verb of motion, and that this
omission has survived in "popular and rustic speech", especially in the New
Kany gives several examples from dialog in Spanish-American novels."
    I conclude from the responses, that the usage in spoken language may be
owing to high speed synalepha resulting in fusion/disappearance of the
particle 'a' or/and is a survival from Old Spanish like so many oddities
found especially in the New World.  I also conclude that the usage is not
considered to be in good taste i narrative writing.
    Again, I thank the respondents warmly for their interest in my problem.


kurtgjevnoe at aol.com (Kurt Gjevnoe, Querétaro, México)

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