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Linguistic Society of America

Exposed Subject and Object in Spanish and Other Romance Languages

Author(s): Ephraim Cross
Source: Language, Vol. 23, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1947), pp. 430-434
Published by: Linguistic Society of America
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Accessed: 02-04-2017 05:01 UTC

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to a much smaller extent, in Ru

eastern periphery of the Empi
development of -XMINE and -IM
preservation of MELLIGO outside
rather than in Rumanian testifies
relics. The thinly Latinized G
from the aggregate of Romanc
fringe of Portugal thus appear,
sides of an edifice whose centra



The Romance languages inherited from Latin a verb fully inflected as to

personal pronominal relations, and, in addition, a series of personal pronoun
In this aggregate is the germ of the 'pleonastic' pronominal construction, whi

with addenda in AJP 65.378 and LANG. 22.296-8. On OGal. gafeen 'leprosy', see R.
Riibecamp, BF 1.324.
6 S. Puqcariu, Die ruminischen Diminutivsuffixe, Achter Jahresbericht des Instituts
fiUr ruminische Sprache 227 (Leipzig, 1902); the most interesting example is PLANTAlGINE >
Rum. p5tlagind.
7 G. Pascu, Sufixele romAneqti 139-43 (Bucarest, 1916); Th. Capidan, Die nominalen
Suffixe im Aromunischen, Fiinfzehnter Jahresbericht des Instituts fUir ruminnische Sprache
58-9 (Leipzig, 1909). On the organic survival of Lat. (AE)RXMINE in Alb. rembe 'bronze',
see the criticism of a recent monograph of C. Tagliavini (who thinks of a borrowing from
Italian) by N. Jokl, Zur Erforschung der albanesischen Mundart von Borgo Erizzo in
Dalmazien, AR 24.131.
8 A few additions to the paper on Sp. melindre and vellido may be in order. The rare
phrase tus ojos velidos reappears in Torres Naharro 1.154 (ed. Gillet). On the doubtful
connection between vellido and Castilla veliciosa in a work of Herndndez-Santillana, ca.
1527, see J. E. Gillet, HR 9.56, 63. With respect to note 105 notice that L. B. Simpson's
improved edition of El Corbacho shows both meloso and melioso (fols. 19ro, 84vo). To the
formations in -ido listed in Excursus A add: mal guarido 'wretched, miserable' (Rimado de
palacio, E, quatr. 1000d); OGal. escoorido 'colorless' (BF 1.332); OSp. desynchalydo 'care-
less, slovenly, nonchalant' (El Corbacho, fol. 69ro; the variant desanchalido appears in
Confisi6n del amante, fol. 157vo, where desanchalimiento 'nonchalance' is frequently used:
fols. 155 ro, 155vo, 156vo, 345vo). A substantival formation worth registering is el en-
prestido 'levy' (Rimado de palacio, N, quatr. 78b).
The Dice. Hist. 2.184b quotes bellido, used in reference to 'beard' and 'neck', from poetic
passages in Perez de Hita and Moreto. WAst. milindro, milindroso are identified by Ace-
vedo y Huelves; WAst. remelgado and remilgau are merely phonetic variants, while CAst.
arremelgar and arremilgar (Canellada) are semantically differentiated. Comparable to
ancient meloxa is CAst. mieloxa. CAst. esmielgar (note 106) has a counterpart in WAst.
esmelgar (Acevedo y Huelves); the corresponding instrument is called esmelgodoira. Amelar
'to manufacture honey' (of bees) was used by Torres Villarroel (Dicc. Hist. 1.530a). An
early dating of melcocha (note 114) is provided by Fr. 1. de Mendoza, Cane. Cast. 1.7a.
Add to notes 21 and 24 that conceivably the last hesitant mention of *BELLITUS by Meyer-
Liibke is found in his Einfiihrung3 204 (1920). The development -inguine > Ptg. -ingre
has its parallel in other branches of Romance; cf. G. Karsten, The Origin of the Suffix
-re in French ordre, coffre, pampre, MLN 3.374-6.

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is quite general in Romance. 'D

object.' The so-called 'repeated
occurs as early as the Old Fren
'King Corsablis he is on the oth
'Count Roland he is very angr
The Old French condition is synchronous with fully inflected verbs and
pronouns that still remain 'tonic'. OF chant (Latin cant5) is today represented
by je chante, while OF je chant is now represented by moi, je chante 'I sing'.
But there is much variation as to the use or omission of the subject pronoun in
OF, except for emphasis or contrast. The pronouns, even those which later
ost the stress accent, remained 'tonic' for a long period.4
The essense of pleonasm resides in the very economy of the Indo-European
languages, as conspicuously illustrated in the Latin-Romance group. Latin
cantant is 'they sing'; hominis cantant is really 'the men they sing'.
For all the changes in phonology, the exposed subject exemplified in Old
French has continued up to the present, notably in the popular speech. 'Doubled'
pronouns occur in present-day French, with a divergence of usage. We say
II a parlg, lui 'He spoke', but, without the 'conjunctive' pronoun, L'homme a
parle, not L'homme il a parle. The sentence Vous et moi avons eu tort 'You and I
were wrong' has no resuming pronoun and no exposed subject. Further, while
there is a difference in form for moi and je, there is none for elle, nous, vous, elles.
In addition, lui and eux may be used alone, as subject pronouns. Investigating
further, we note that the declarative order is pronoun + verb: il est, but the
interrogative is verb + pronoun: est-il?. This is in contradiction to the inter-
rogative order when a noun subject is involved: L'homme est-il ici? 'The man
is he here?' Pourquoi votre ami n'est-il pas ici? 'Why your friend is he not
here?' Quand votre ami est-il parti? 'When your friend did he leave?' The
subject introduces the sentence or precedes the verb.
French therefore presents a confused condition that may reflect a transition
state or an incipient stage. The Spanish verb, with a conjugation system that
preserves distinction of forms far more extensively than French, does not require
the expression of the subject personal pronoun, nor has it developed a double
set of subject pronouns. Rhaeto-Romance, on the other hand, has pleonastic
subject pronouns.1
We also find an exposed object (preposed) resumed by a personal pronoun:
Sp. A Juan le vi, Fr. Jean, je l'ai vu 'John I saw him' = 'I saw John'. Italian
and Rumanian have the same construction. This preposed object has been re-
sumed by a personal pronoun during the entire French period: Ceste bataille

1 For 'repeated subject', see W. Meyer-Lilbke, Gram. d. rom. Spr. 3.?341.

2 La chanson de Roland (Oxford version) 885, 777 (revised ed. by T. A. Jenkins; Boston
and New York, 1924).
8 H. Bauche, Le langage populaire 154 (Paris, 1929).
4 K. Nyrop, Gram. hist. de la langue fr. 5.?177 (Copenhagen, 1925).
' T. Gartner, Handb. d. raitorom. Spr. und Lit. 213-4 (Halle, 1910).

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veirement la ferom 'This battle we w

avec grande inquietude 'The night he
With a relative pronoun the use o
in Spanish. This usage, which redu
ject or object, is found also in Fren
is now especially characteristic of
vient ici, que tu le connais bien, qu
here, whom you know him well,
popular speech the relative que as
C'est moi que je l'aifait 'It is I who
Spanish literary occurrences are nu
que no las entenderia el mismo cur
very priest wouldn't understand th
calls que a dative in un sargento de m
who to him is missing half an e
Cervantes the grammar cites: en leng
entiendan 'in a language which there
otro libro tengo que le llamo supleme
Lastly, we come to the simultaneou
que: En Sevilla y enmitad del camin
desde la puerta de la Macarena, hay, e
lugar en que estd colocado y las circu
decirse que era, si ya no lo es, el ma's
andaluces 'there is one which it can b
The example just cited fits under
analysis of a syntactical arrange
Spanish construction entailing wha
framework of Romance grammar,
The parece-que construction is our key example of this type. The circum-
stance that there is a frequent and identical occurrence with other verbs and
with other than impersonal forms not only confirms the ingrained character of
the construction treated, but also establishes the correctness of my interpretation
that we are dealing with what may be viewed as an exposed subject and not a
casual anacoluthon. Again, the persistence and propagation of the parece-que
construction indicates a conformity with Spanish syntactical practice attendant,
of course, upon the separate, independent development of Spanish, and char-
acterizing, as well as affecting, that development.
6 La chanson de Roland 882.

7 Montaigne, quoted by Nyrop ?227.

8 Idem.
9 Bauche 102-3.
10 V. Blasco IbAfiez, La tumba de Ali-Bellus (in Cuentos valencianos, 1916).
11 Gram4tica de la lengua espafiola9 ?351 note la, ?352 (Madrid and Barcelona, 1931).
12 G. A. B6cquer, La venta de los gatos, paragraph 1.

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Before pursuing this point with f

and clarify, the not infrequent
B6cquer, the simultaneous use o
recordando a la que todos sabian
know (that she) had drowned
third example of my earlier analy
van a Zaragoza 'an officer and a
away to Saragossa [seem to be
oficial y un criado suyo is modifie
predicate for the complex subje
phrase is a reply to a question a
comitance with a relative clause
has the same form as the conju
affecting the main phenomenon
This example of mine was term
able'.'6 Nevertheless, the analy
juxtaposed translation and a ref
example not only is easily analyzab
cited. This is not at all a matter
Since the first que in the examp
conjunction, each has a distinct
due to a confusion arising out o
The possible loss of the second
should also be noted that where
indicative its omission is rare.
Since this type of 'exposed subject' is not sporadic, it becomes profitable to
trace some extensions, ramifications, and parallels of the phenomenon. In
parallel occurrence with the 'exposed subject' + parece que + verb in agreement
with the 'exposed subject', we find: el hombre no cabe duda de que es espaiol
'the man there is no doubt that he is Spanish', besides numerous other verbs and
verbal phrases in impersonal form, as in the B6cquer example. With personal
verb forms we find: el hombre supongo que estd aqui 'the man I suppose that he is
here'. This is typical.
My previous suggestion that parece que has become equivalent to an adverb
is an explanatory device, a functional explanation in the light of orthodox Latin
syntax. Viewed historically and on the assumption that we have a continuation
of Latin syntax, the impersonal construction has the fibre out of which an adverb
may be formed. For the evolution parece que to an adverb we have a pattern in
quizd < qui sapit 'perhaps'. A personal construction like supongo que, suponemos
que, etc., being subject to variation, does not so readily lend itself to such pho-
netic reduction. If Spanish syntax evolves far enough from Latin and if the
cast of the Spanish language becomes radically different from Latin, such tradi-
13 Quoted by H. Keniston, Spanish syntax list 42.413 (New York, 1937).
14 E. Cross, Spanish parece que, LANG. 21.266.
'5 LANG. 22.359.

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tional explanations may become

they are analogical.



[Examples of the present progressive having minimal contrast with the simple
present make 'base tense' or 'fact of process' a better description of the simple
present than 'constitution of things', the latter being, however, the most important

Edward Calver' offers an ingenious summary of the underlying meaning of

the simple present tense in English as opposed to the present progressive: that it
refers to 'the constitution of things (logical, physical, psychological, essential,
etc.)', while the progressive is the tense of 'mere occurrence'. These observa-
tions will be an extension of remarks more than a criticism. Calver excepted
one use, the historical present, from his formula, and there are two other types
that in a very literal application of the formula would probably have to be ex-
cepted also; but I believe that his principle does, if we admit the possibility of
metaphor,2 account for both the historical present and for one of the other types.
The historical present usually has to do with action in sequence (Calver's
example: She runs to the cop and grabs him by the arm); at such times there is
none of that p-rduration or predestination that seems to characterize the other
uses of the simple present discussed by Calver. Alongside of the historical
present is the first of the two types mentioned above: constructions with adverbs
in inverted order, such as Here comes the teacher! and Away they go!, reporting
immediate occurrences and accordingly, on the surface, seeming to be closer to
The teacher is coming and They are going away, i.e. to the progressive, than to
other uses of the simple present. But both this and the historical present may
be regarded as a figurative extension of.the 'constitution of things'. The speaker
who uses She runs to the cop and grabs him by the arm is oblivious of everything
but the occurrence. The setting is abolished, and she runs BECOMES 'constitution
of things' by absorbing the attention completely. The extreme vividness of the
historical present results from this metaphorical abolition of everything irrelevant
to the process itself.
But there is one use of the historical present which Calver would not have
needed to except even from the literal interpretation of his principle, namely,
when it is used in a context of past verbs, e.g. Jack said that his mother was very ill,
and got me to go see what I could do for her. I had to leave my other patients and
drive half the evening, which meant that all my plans were upset. And then he tells
me that the whole thing was a hoax! Or this example, from Detective Tales:
Yeah! You said he wouldn't live! In other words, you promised to kill him.
1 The Uses of the Present Tense Forms in English, LANG. 22.317-25 (1946).
2 The metaphorical extension of grammatical principles is too common to need defense
here, and does not constitute a begging of the question. We may define the superlative
degree with logical rigidity as 'the form showing that something is unequaled', and then
may figuratively call something 'best' not necessarily because it is unequaled, but because
for the moment we choose to regard it as unequaled.

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