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
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 http://www.ccil.org/~cowan email@example.com
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)