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Summary Details

Query:   Spanish Verb Particles
Author:  Gjevnoe Kurt
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Syntax

Summary:   Dear linguists,
On the 10 april this year I posted a question to the following effect:

''The problem this time is the usage of the preposition 'a' when it
follows a verb as a part of the same verbal expression ( i.e., as a particle
verb where the particle (the preposition) is an integral part of the nucleus
of the predicate.) Examples are 'voy a' (immediate future), 'aprendo a' and
'empiezo a'. In speech, the preposition will disappear through fusion with
an infinitive if this begins with the vowel 'a' (or 'ha'), which feels
rather natural.. Examples are ''ya voy hacerlo'', ''aprendi? hablar'' and
''empez? aclarar''. In writing, however, this usage is irritating. I should
prefer ''ya voy a hacerlo'' , ''aprendi? a hablar'' y ''empez? a aclarar''. I have
observed the fusion in narration by varios writers and I haven't liked it.
What I do not find in any grammar book (asking native speakers is a hopeless
venture, of course) is a norm that would permit or describe which usage is
the most correct in writing.''

I've received very useful responses from the following:
Lee Hartman
Earl Herrick
Jos? Luis Mendivil Giro
Karl Reinhardt
Miguel Rodr?guez-Mondo?edo
Juan C. Ruiz Guillermo Soto and
Stanley Whitley
to whom my best thanks go.

In sum, the subject (ab)use of Spanish was considered either
unimaginable or reprehensible, Lee Hartman proved from a frequencyanalysis in
a population of more than 3000 examples in Corpus de Referencia de la Lengua
Espa?ola Contempor?nea that the usage is found to be extremely rare. He
refers to Charles Kany (''American-Spanish Syntax'', Chicago, 1951), who is
also quoted by Manuel Seco in ''Diccionario de dudas de la lengua espa?ola'',
Madrid, 1992 as pointed out by Miguel Rodr?guez-Mondo?edo. I quote Lee
Hartman: ''...Kany (1951:333-334), who points out that in Old Spanish the _a_
was ''not required'' with an infinitive after a verb of motion, and that this
omission has survived in ''popular and rustic speech'', especially in the New
Kany gives several examples from dialog in Spanish-American novels.''
I conclude from the responses, that the usage in spoken language may be
owing to high speed synalepha resulting in fusion/disappearance of the
particle 'a' or/and is a survival from Old Spanish like so many oddities
found especially in the New World. I also conclude that the usage is not
considered to be in good taste i narrative writing.
Again, I thank the respondents warmly for their interest in my problem.


kurtgjevnoe@aol.com (Kurt Gjevnoe, Quer?taro, M?xico)

LL Issue: 13.1090
Date Posted: 19-Apr-2002
Original Query: Read original query


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