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Pronoun variation in Latin American Spanish

Tesis doctoral en la red:
Mauder, Elisabeth. 2008. Pronoun variation in Latin American Spanish:
A data engineer's view on le and lo. Netherlands Graduate School of
Linguistics / Landelijke - LOT (Series Title: LOT Dissertation Series
URL: http://www.lotpublications.nl/publish/issues/Mauder/index.html


In Latin American Spanish, the pronouns le, la en lo represent
remnants of the Latin Case system. Although most verbs govern case,
there are contexts in which the pronouns appear in variation, e.g. in
clauses based on verbs like ayudar 'to help'. Earlier studies found
support for the assumption that pronoun choice in such clauses is
influenced by contextual elements, e.g. that the dative form le is
preferred when the subject of the clause is inanimate or when the
pronoun appears in a politeness construction. This book aims to
replicate these investigations under strict methodological conditions,
including the application of multivariate techniques.

The investigation comprises three parts: (i) a critical discussion and
meta-analysis of earlier studies, (ii) a text-based study of pronoun
and (iii) a large-scale experiment. The discussion of earlier
publications reveals that many of them are ridden by methodological
weaknesses and part of the reported results fail to survive
statistical testing. Neither the text study nor the experiment yield
convincing evidence for the effect of
contextual factors. Overall, pronoun variation cannot sensibly be
related to one single factor or a small set of factors. A possible
explanation for
the wide-spread belief in the impact of contextual factors on pronoun
use is found in the investigation of contexts in which the pronoun is
governed by the verb. These contexts show the predicted cooccurrence
between dative pronouns and inanimate subjects, c.q. politeness
constructions - a distribution which is merely the result of the high
frequency of dative-governing verbs in such contexts.

The theoretical background of this study is a functional approach
known as Columbia School, yet due to the strongly data-oriented and
methodological focus, the book is also accessible to, and useful for,
specialists working in other theoretical frameworks or on other
problems of linguistic variation.

Palabras clave: Spanish, Syntax, Text/Corpus Linguistics




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