Academic journal article Journal of Social Sciences

The Grammaticalization of the Spanish Complement-Taking Verb without a Complementizer

Academic journal article Journal of Social Sciences

The Grammaticalization of the Spanish Complement-Taking Verb without a Complementizer

Article excerpt

Abstract: This study examines authentic data samples taken from the Corpus de Referencia del Español Actual (CREA) in order to uncover any semantic trends that can be commonly observed in verbs taking a sentential complement without the complementizer que in Spanish. In doing so, special attention is given to the grammaticalization process that can account for epistemic fragments in which the semantic meaning of the verb becomes attenuated and where the main verb alone without a complementizer functions like an adverbial phrase. Four semantic groups of verbs with a zero complementizer are analyzed: (i) Verbs of cognition/mental act (e.g., creer 'think'); (ii) verbs of communication (e.g., decir 'say'); (iii) verbs of volition and desire (e.g., esperar 'hope'); and iv) verbs of emotion (e.g., temer 'fear'). These verb groups allowing a zero complementizer show differences with respect to (i) the subjunctive and indicative use in the embedded clause, (ii) the formal Vs. informal registers and (iii) the use of the complement-taking verbs as a fragment/parenthetical or an epistemic marker (in order to capture the degree of grammaticalization). This study proposes that not all the verbs that allow for the omission of the complementizer undergo the same degree of grammaticalization, but the semantics of the main verb interacting with all those factors play a role in determining the likelihood of the omission and the possibility that the main verb can actually be used as a floated parenthetical with a more subjective meaning that involves a more active process of grammaticalization. It is also shown that the degree of grammaticalization differs from verb to verb, as well as from verb class to verb class.

Keywords: Spanish, Zero Complementizer, Grammaticalization, Parenthetical, Epistemic Marker

Introduction

Spanish is often described as a language in which a sentential complement normally requires the presence of the complementizer que 'that' as in (1), unlike in English (2) in which the omission of the complementizer that is optional:

(1) a. Diego sabía que tendría el apoyo.

"Diego knew that he would have the support."

b. *Diego sabía Ø tendría el apoyo.

"Diego knew (that) he would have the support."

(2) Diego knew (that) he would have the support.

It has been noted in literature, however, that a full sentential complement in Spanish can appear without a complementizer just like in English, but little is known about the usages and patterns related to such an omission. Brovetto (2002) proposes that the Spanish complementizer que 'that' may be optional when, for example, the embedded proposition conveys a meaning of uncertainty or an irrealis meaning as shown in (3):

(3) Espero (que) se solucionen pronto los problemas causados por el huracán.

"I hope (that) the problems caused by the hurricane will be solved soon."

(example taken from Brovetto (2002)

Although this observation gives us an insight into the phenomenon studied, the example in (4), taken from the CREA corpus collected by the Real Academia Española, shows that the embedded proposition does not necessarily have to convey an irrealis meaning to allow for the zero complementizer:

(4) Entonces yo digo Ø siempre me encantó. De chiquilla tenía facilidad para dibujar, en vacaciones era mi hobby.

"Then I say Ø I always loved it. Since I was little, I had the ability to draw; on vacations it was my hobby."

(CREA, oral data, Costa Rica)

The main verb decir 'to say' (in yo digo 'I say') has a sentential complement that denotes a realis meaning (siempre me encantó 'I always loved it'), but the omission of the complementizer que is still possible. This leads us to think that the zero complementizer phenomenon in Spanish is more complex than one might have thought from simple observations and intuition and that more comprehensive studies tackling this topic are needed.

This study examines authentic data samples taken from the Corpus de Referencia del Español Actual (CREA) in order to uncover any semantic trends that can be commonly observed in verbs taking a sentential complement without a complementizer. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.