When agreement is for covert but not for overt: the case of ustedes plus second person plural inflections in peninsular Spanish

Víctor Lara Bermejo

Abstract

The Spanish spoken in Andalusia is characterised by having a single second person plural pronoun (ustedes) (unlike the standard variety which possesses two) and by inducing a double agreement to the elements that anchor this pronoun. Despite the fact that the person mismatches can be attested in object pronouns and possessives, the disagreements between subject and verb are systematic and have not been investigated in depth. In this article, I argue that these person mismatches are produced because of topicalised elements, whose anaphors within the sentence are not obliged to receive the same syntactic traces as the element they refer to. Moreover, most of the disagreements respond to silent elements that are not made explicit but which remain in the deep structure of the sentence. Once the topicalised element starts being reanalysed as the subject of the sentence, the two agreements coexist and even emerge in the surface structure. Both agreements are born in big determiner phrases, containing a specific inflection for the topic and another one for the actual subject.

Keywords

Topicalisation; covert pronouns; big DP; person mismatches; Andalusian

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