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Academic Paper


Title: The Neuter Pronoun ELLO in Dominican Spanish and the Null Subject Property (Das neutrale Pronomen ello im dominikanischen Spanisch und die Nullsubjekteigenschaft : Anhang: Korpus und Bibliographie zu ello und unpersönlichen Konstruktionen [...])
Paper URL: http://www.ub.uni-konstanz.de/kops/volltexte/2006/2223/
Author: Marc-Olivier Hinzelin
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.hinzelin.net
Institution: Universität Hamburg
Author: Georg A. Kaiser
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Universität Konstanz
Linguistic Field: Syntax
Subject Language: Spanish
Subject Language Family: Romance
Abstract: The Spanish neuter pronoun ello is used in the Dominican dialect in various constructions in a way it never occurs in Standard Iberian Spanish (Henríquez Ureña 1939, 1940/1975; Jiménez Sabater 1975; Toribio 1993, 1996, 2000; Silva-Villar 1998; González Tapia 2001). Among others, it occurs in a preverbal position in impersonal constructions, similar to the French expletive il:

(1) Dom. Sp. ello ta lloviendo (Pérez-Leroux 1999: 108)
Fr. il pleut
Engl. it is raining

(2) ello parece que no hay azúcar (Toribio: 1996: 422)
il paraît qu’il n’y a pas de sucre
‘it seems that there is no sugar’ (it seems there is no sugar)

(3) ello hay muchos mangos este año (Toribio 1996: 422)
il y a beaucoup de mangues cette année
there are many mangoes this year

(4) ello llegan guaguas hasta allá (Toribio 1996: 422)
il arrivent des cars jusque là
‘there arrive buses to there’ (buses reach there)

Under the assumption of the null subject parameter in Principles & Parameter Theory, this usage contradicts the correlation between null subjects and null expletives and received attention among generative researchers for the first time in the case of Galician (and Portuguese) variants (Raposo & Uriagereka 1990).
A recent survey on grammaticality judgements of ello constructions by Dominican speakers supports its use in a wide range of different constructions and in various parts of the country. Nevertheless, in contrast to the obligatory use of expletives in non-null subject languages like French, the use of ello is always optional in Dominican Spanish. This and its occurrence in other constructions where it cannot be analyzed as subject lead to the conclusion that it has not the function of an expletive subject pronoun but that of a discourse marker.

(5) ello veremos (Henríquez Ureña 1940/1975: 227)
‘it we-see’ (let’s see)

(6) ello sí (Henríquez Ureña 1940/1975: 228)
‘it yes’ (surely)

Its relatively frequent use in impersonal constructions in Dominican Spanish can be explained by the preverbal void and by the reticence of speakers to use V1-sentences. Hence, ello is used to fill the preverbal position and expresses emphasis, speaker attitude, etc. An evolution from a pronoun to a discourse marker has already been attested (Yap, Matthews & Horie 2004). A future reanalysis as expletive though is not excluded given the fact that Dominican Spanish shows a gradual loss of null subjects similar to Brazilian Portuguese and Old/Middle French. Theories of expletive creation predict this possible development (Faarlund 1990, Silva-Villar 1996 [1999]).
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
URL: http://www.ub.uni-konstanz.de/kops/volltexte/2006/2223/


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