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From motion to causation : the diachrony of the Spanish causative constructions with traer (‘bring’) and llevar (‘take’)

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

This paper describes the historical evolution of the Spanish causative micro-constructions with the motion verbs llevar (‘take’) and traer (‘bring’) (e.g., el miedo llevó al ladrón a cometer un error, ‘the fear caused the thief to make a mistake’). In order to reconstruct the historical development of these micro-constructions between the 13th and 20th centuries, all causative uses of llevar and traer were extracted from the Corpus del Diccionario Histórico. This corpus was annotated for a series of formal and semantic parameters that count as indexes of grammaticalization, and was submitted to a quantitative productivity analysis. The results point to the existence of a subschema formed of verbs of caused accompanied motion, which has semantically specialized in the expression of indirect causation. From a formal point of view, this subschema is characterized by a low level of syntactic incorporation of the causative verb and the infinitive. In addition, it is shown that the productivity of the causative micro-constructions under study is determined by semantic changes experienced by llevar and traer as full lexical verbs during the history of Spanish. The late development of the micro-construction with llevar is explained by the initial tendency of this verb to express motion events not bounded by an endpoint. From the 16th century onwards, the decline in the micro-construction with traer and the rise in the micro-construction with llevar results from the consolidation of the deictic meaning of the verb pair.
ISSN: 2226-471X
Issue: 2
Volume: 8
Publication year:2023