Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session




From the introduction: "There is a very common type of Spanish sentence which has the following properties: (i) One of the arguments of the verb is a noun phrase which consists of an article (almost always a definite article) and a noun. (ii) There is also a dative pronoun dependent on the verb, and (iii) the dative pronoun is understood as the possessor of the definite noun. [Examples follow]

"I will refer to sentences of this kind as PA-type sentences.

"It has been suggested that sentences like [those above] should be accounted for under the theory of Relational Grammar by a relational configuration called Possessor Ascension (PA). In this structure the possessor of a possessor-head construction is a non-initial indirect object [...] in the same clause in which the possessor-head construction bears an initial grammatical relation (GR). The relational network (RN) which defines PA is given in figure 1 [below], along with the RN involving PA which would be used for [the examples above].

"Two main arguments have been given to support a PA analysis for Spanish. They are as follows:

"Argument A: PA has already been posited, and argued for against at least some reasonable alternatives, in other languages (e.g. Chamorro, French, Georgian, Southern Tiwa, Tzotzil). Thus it is independently motivated as a universally possible configuration. Using it to account for the Spanish data is therefore more parsimonious; there is no need to posit a new kind of RN.

"Argument B: Positing structures within PA allows one to reflect the similarity in meaning between sentences in languages with PA (e.g. the Spanish sentences given above) and sentences in languages without PA (e.g. the English translations of those sentences), where the Possessor remains as Possessor.

"I would like to argue that PA is not the best way to account for sentences [in the example above]. They are better viewed as resulting from a structure with an "ethical dative" (ED) and what we will call "Possessor Omission" (PO), both of which can be independently motivated in Spanish."