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Re: "A" Personal in Spanish (was - Redundant pronouns, Tagalog,etc.)

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Tuesday, February 16, 1999, 17:16
Pablo Flores wrote:

> Could it be that Latin _ad_ (> Spanish _a_) was used to mark > some animate objects, with a different meaning than the > simple accusative, and then this mark spread to *all* animate > objects?
More the other way around: it spread from some accusatives to all personal accusatives. Here's pp. 102-103 of _A History of the Spanish Language_, by Ralph Penny (ISBN 0-521-39784-7): # The indirect object in spoken Latin was often expressed by means # of IN or AD together with the Accusative, while Classical Latin # used an unqualified Dative. The same construction (eventually # "a" + noun) was used in Spain and other areas to express a personal # direct object, rather than the Accusative. Spanish "(lo dio) a su # amigo" and "(vio) a su amigo" are the linear descendants of # V[ulgar] L[atin] AD + Accusative. # # In Old Spanish, this "personal a" construction was still not # grammaticalized, but served to disambiguate prepositions in which # two nouns or pronouns were clustered with a verb of the same number # (singular or plural). Under these circumstances, the relatively # free word order of Spanish (which frequently allows the subject # to follow its verb) could give rise to doubt as to which of the # nouns was to be interpreted as the subject and which as the object, # but the appearance of "a" before one of the (pro)nouns implied # that the other was to be construed as the subject. This potential # ambiguity most frequently arose in the case of *personal* nouns, # since such nouns are more likely to function as the subject of # the sentence. # # It was only at the end of the Golden Age that the "personal a" # became an obligatory particle, although frequent examples of its # former disambiguating role can be seen in contemporary sentences # like "mordio' el perro al gato" = "the dog bit the cat", where # neither noun is personal, but where, without the preposition, # it is impossible to determine which of the nouns is the subject. -- John Cowan You tollerday donsk? N. You tolkatiff scowegian? Nn. You spigotty anglease? Nnn. You phonio saxo? Nnnn. Clear all so! 'Tis a Jute.... (Finnegans Wake 16.5)