Vocatives with determiners: the case of vocatives preceded by possessives

Laura González López


In some varieties of Spanish (American, above all), possessives can appear in vocative constructions such as Mi niña, ¿qué haces? (lit. ‘My girl, what are you doing?’) in contrast to the generalization that vocatives refuse definite articles (Bosque 1996, Leonetti 1999, 2016). The aim of this investigation is to explain why this happen and to propose a syntactic analysis that explains these cases and reflects the data obtained by some spoken (PRESSEA) and written corpora (CREA). The analysis is based on Eguren (to appear) and Leonetti (1999) for possessives, and Espinal (2013) and Hill (2014) for vocatives. The conclusions predict that, in those varieties in which possessives are compatible with a real determiner (un mi amigo que es muy pobrecito, lit. ‘a my friend that is very poor’), we obtain a prenominal possessive in vocatives (mi amigo que es muy pobrecito, lit. ‘my friend that is very poor’) as a result of the possessive’s movement to [Specifier, IP] (amigo mío>mii amigo hi); while in which are not compatible with them (un amigo mío, lit. ‘a friend mine’), we find a postnominal possessive in vocative constructions (amigo mío, lit. ‘friend mine’). Finally, this work tries to confer the real status of vocatives, so forgotten in generative studies.


vocatives; possessives; Spanish variation; syntactic analysis; corpus

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