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Title: Pronoun variation in Latin American Spanish
Subtitle: A data engineer's view on le and lo
Written By: Elisabeth Mauder
Series Title: LOT Dissertation Series 191

In Latin American Spanish, the pronouns le, la en lo represent remnants of
the Latin Case system. Although most verbs govern case, there are contexts
in which the pronouns appear in variation, e.g. in clauses based on verbs
like ayudar ‘to help’. Earlier studies found support for the assumption
that pronoun choice in such clauses is influenced by contextual elements,
e.g. that the dative form le is preferred when the subject of the clause is
inanimate or when the pronoun appears in a politeness construction. This
book aims to replicate these investigations under strict methodological
conditions, including the application of multivariate techniques.

The investigation comprises three parts: (i) a critical discussion and
meta-analysis of earlier studies, (ii) a text-based study of pronoun use,
and (iii) a large-scale experiment. The discussion of earlier publications
reveals that many of them are ridden by methodological weaknesses and part
of the reported results fail to survive statistical testing. Neither the
text study nor the experiment yield convincing evidence for the effect of
contextual factors. Overall, pronoun variation cannot sensibly be related
to one single factor or a small set of factors. A possible explanation for
the wide-spread belief in the impact of contextual factors on pronoun use
is found in the investigation of contexts in which the pronoun is governed
by the verb. These contexts show the predicted cooccurrence between dative
pronouns and inanimate subjects, c.q. politeness constructions – a
distribution which is merely the result of the high frequency of
dative-governing verbs in such contexts.

The theoretical background of this study is a functional approach known as
Columbia School, yet due to the strongly data-oriented and methodological
focus, the book is also accessible to, and useful for, specialists working
in other theoretical frameworks or on other problems of linguistic variation.

Publication Year: 2008
Publisher: Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics / Landelijke (LOT)
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BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Syntax
Text/Corpus Linguistics
Subject Language(s): Spanish
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Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9789078328650
Pages: 326
Prices: Europe EURO 26.44