Questions with definite markers in (Old) Romance, with focus on Old Spanish

Olga Kellert

Abstract

We will depart from the observation that Romance languages can be subdivided into two groups with respect to free relatives under question-embedding predicates (Kellert 2017). One group has grammaticalized the definite element (e.g. Pt.[1] o, Fl. i’ ‘the’) and que/che into one question pronoun (e.g. Pt. o que ‘what’ and Fl. icché ‘what’); the other group has not (e.g. Spanish and French). We will show that in one group free relatives that are embedded under question predicates resemble more complex nouns (as in Spanish and French), whereas in the other group they are clausal and have the structure of ordinary questions as in Portuguese and Florentine. We will look at the evolution of lo que sentences in Old Spanish and demonstrate that they were used as relative clauses under non-question predicates such as ser ‘be’ and factive predicates such as ‘know’ with much higher frequency than under genuine question predicates such as preguntar ‘to ask’. We will suggest that the interrogative interpretation of lo que- relative clauses has its source in the ambiguity of factive predicates. Factive predicates can select both DPs interpreted as definite descriptions and CPs interpreted as interrogatives. Lo que-relatives can thus be interpreted as definite descriptions and as interrogatives under factive predicates. As we will argue, this ambiguous interpretation was the precondition for the use of lo que-sentences to be used in non-ambiguous question contexts. However, the reanalysis of lo que-sentences as questions has not been fully accomplished in Modern Spanish in contrast to Modern Portuguese, as these sentences still show syntactic and semantic differences from ordinary questions.


[1]          Fl. stands for Florentine, Sp. for Spanish, Pt. for Portuguese, and Fr. for French. Mo. for Modern and O. for Old and Mi. for Middle languages.

Keywords

(Old) Romance; free relatives; constituent questions; definite descriptions; grammaticalization; reanalysis; factive predicates; question-embedding predicates

Full Text:

PDF

References

Alarcos Llorach, Emilio. 1984 [1970]. “Español que”. In ibid., Estudios de gramática funcional del español, 260-274. Madrid: Gredos.

Ambar, Manuela & Veloso, Rita. 2001. “On the nature of wh-phrases-word order and wh-in situ Evidence from Portuguese, French, Hungarian and Tetum”. In Y. D'Hulst, J. Rooryck, and J. Schroten (eds.), Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory: Selected Papers from 'Going Romance' 1999, Leiden, 9-11 December, 1-37. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Arregi, Karlos. 2000. “Definite Articles as Relative Operators.” Ms., Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Benincà, Paola. 2010. “Headless relatives in some Old Italian varieties”. In R. D’Alessandro, A. Ledgeway, and I. Roberts (eds.), Syntactic variation. The dialects of Italy, 55-70. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bresnan, Joan. & Grimshaw, Jane. 1978. “The Syntax of English Free Relatives”. Linguistic Inquiry 9: 331-391.

Caponigro, Ivano. 2004. “The Semantic Contribution of Wh-words And Type Shifts: Evidence from Free Relatives Crosslinguistically”. Proceedings of SALT 14: 38-55.

Cardinaletti, Anna & Starke, Michal. 1999. “The Typology of Structural Deficiency: On the three Grammatical Classes”. In H. van Riemsdijk (ed.), Clitics in the Languages of Europe, 145-234. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Carlson, Greg & Sussman, Rachel. 2005. “Seemingly indefinite definites”. In S. Kepsar and M. Reis (eds.), Linguistic Evidence, 71-85. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Chierchia, Gennaro. 1998. “Reference to kinds across languages”. Natural Language Semantics 6: 339-405.

Contreras, Heles. 1999. “Relaciones entre las construcciones interrogativas, exclamativas y relativas”. In I. Bosque and V. Demonte (eds.), Gramatica descriptiva de la lengua española vol.2, 1931-1963, Madrid: Espasa Calpe.

Egré, Paul. 2008. “Question-embedding and factivity”. Grazer Philosophische Studien 77(1): 85-125.

Fry, John. 2011. “CHI-SQUARE TEST. Linguistics 497: Corpus Linguistics, Spring 2011.” Ms., Boise State University.

García Cornejo, Rosalía. 2006. Morfología y sintaxis de "que" en la Edad Media. Sevilla: Universidad de Sevilla.

Girón, Alconchel, J.L. 1988. Las oraciones interrogativas indirectas en el espanol medieval. Madrid: Gredos.

González, P. 2003. Aspects on Aspect. Ph.D. thesis, University of Utrecht.

Diemoz, Federica. 2007. Morphologie et syntaxe des pronoms personnels sujets dans les parlers francoprovençaux de la Vallée d'Aoste. Tübingen: Francke.

Hamblin, Charles Leonard. 1973. “Questions in Montague English”. Foundations of Language 10: 41-53.

Homer, Vincent. 2008. “Disruption of NPI Licensing: The Case of Presuppositions”. Proceedings of SALT 18: 429-446.

Karttunen, Lauri. 1977. Syntax and semantics of questions. Linguistics and Philosophy 1: 3-44.

Kellert, Olga. 2015. Interrogative und Exklamative. Syntax und Semantik von multiplen wh-Elementen im Französischen und Italienischen. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Kellert, Olga & Lauschus. Sebastian. 2016. “The particle o in some Tuscan dialects: Fiorentino, Pisano and Crespinese”. Italian Journal of Linguistics 28(2): 3-39.

Kellert, Olga. 2017. “Interrogatives”. In A. Dufter and E. Stark (eds.), Morphosyntax and Syntax, 569-603. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Kiparsky, Paul & Kiparsky, Carol. 1970. “Fact”. In M. Bierwisch and K. Heidolph (eds.), Progress in Linguistics, 143-173. The Hague: Mouton.

Kunstmann, Pierre. 1990. Le relatif-interrogatif en ancien français. Geneva: Droz.

Medeiros Júnior, Paulo. 2014. “from [o_que] to [o que]: free relatives in a diachronic view (approaching Brazilian Portuguese data).” Ms., Universidade Estadual de Campinas.

Mattos e Silva, Rosa Virgínia. 1990. Estruturas trecentistas: elementos para uma gramática do português arcaico. Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional - Casa da Moeda.

Munaro, Nicola 2000. “Free relatives as defective wh-elements. Evidence from the North-Western Italian dialects”. University of Venice Working Papers in Linguistics 10(1): 89-120.

Octavio de Toledo, Álvaro & Rodríguez Molina. Javier. 2017. “La imprescindible distinción entre texto y testimonio: el CORDE y los criterios de fiabilidad lingüística”. Scriptum digital 6: 5-68.

Ott, Dennis. 2011. “A note on free relative clauses in the theory of phases”. Linguistic Inquiry 42(1): 183-192.

Partee, Barbara. 1987. “Noun Phrase Interpretation and Type-shifting Principles”. In: J. Groenendijk, D. de Jongh, & M. Stokhof (eds.), Studies in Discourse Representation Theory and the Theory of Generalized Quantifiers, 115-143. Dordrecht: Foris.

Plann, Susan. 1982. “Indirect questions in Spanish”. Linguistic Inquiry 13: 293-312.

Poletto, Cecilia. & Pollock, Jean-Yves. 2009. “Another look at wh- questions in Romance: A look at Mendrisiotto”. In D. Torck and W. L. Wetzels (eds.), Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2006: Selected papers from ‘Going Romance’, Amsterdam, 7–9 December 2006, 199-258. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Quer, Josep. 1998. Mood at the Interface. The Hague: Holland Academic Graphics.

Radford, Andrew. 2004. Minimalist Syntax: Exploring the structure of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rebuschi, Georges. 2001. “Semi-Free Relative Clauses and the DP Hypothesis: Basque Evidence and Theoretical Consequences”. In A. Grosu (ed.), Papers from the Sixteenth Annual Conference and from the Research Workshop of the Israel Science Foundation [on] The Syntax and Semantics of Relative Constructions, 55−64. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University.

Ridruejo, Emilio. 1987. “Sobre las oraciones interrogativas indirectas deliberativas en español medieval”. In G. Lüdi (ed.), “Romania Ingeniosa”: Festschrift für Prof. Gerold Hilty zum 60. Geburtstag, 365-383. Bern: Lang.

Rivero, Maria Luisa. 1984 “Diachronic Syntax and Learnability: Free relatives in thirteenth century Spanish”. Journal of Linguistics 20: 81-129.

Rojo, Guillermo. 2011. “Frecuencia de inventario y frecuencia de uso”. Revista Española de Lingüística 41(1): 5-43.

Stulic-Etchevers, Ana. 2007. La grammaire de loke et siendo (ke) eb judéo-espagnol des balkans. Ph.D. thesis, Bordeaux: Université Michel de Montaigne–Bordeaux 3.

Suñer, Margarita. 1999. “La subordinación sustantiva: la interrogación indirecta”. In I. Bosque and V. Demonte (eds.), Gramática descriptiva de la lengua española, 2149-2195. Madrid: Espasa Calpe.

Corpora

COR = Cresti, E. / Moneglia, M. (eds.). .2005. C-ORAL-ROM: Integrated Reference Corpora for Spoken Romance Languages, Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Davies, Mark. 2002. Corpus del Español (100 million words, 1200-1900). Available online at:

https://www.corpusdelespanol.org. (Last access 20 February 2018)

CORDE: Corpus Diacrónico del Español. Available online at:

http://corpus.rae.es/cordenet.html. (Last access 20 February 2018)

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM
Copyright (c) 2019 Olga Kellert