Monday, February 20, 2006

Left Conjunct Agreement

It is well known that Spanish, as many other languages (including English), displays Left Conjunct Agreement (LCA), that is, under certain circumstances, the verb agrees with the left member of a coordinated subject:

(1) Estaba César y su ejército en la orilla opuesta del río

LCA is more common in postverbal subjects, and when at least one of the conjuncts has low referentiality (in (1) for instance, César is a unique individual, but not su ejército “his army”). It cannot happen when both conjuncts have high referentiality:

(2) * Estaba César y Pompeyo en la orilla opuesta del río

It is less known, however, that this phenomenon is not limited to verb-subject agreement. Participles are also subject to LCA:

(3) Sabe varios idiomas, incluido el inglés y el francés

It is worth noticing that the Spanish prescriptive discourse usually condemns the LCA (in both cases).


At 8:39 PM, Blogger Víctor Manuel Ramos said...

Muy interesante ver la mecánica del lenguaje. One question, though, why in English if Spanish is the subject?

At 10:27 PM, Blogger Miguel Rodríguez Mondoñedo said...

This blog is in English because I'd like to share it with people that do not speak Spanish, but may find out that Spanish is useful to their on research in Linguistics.

At 12:28 AM, Anonymous Laramie said...

I am a software engineer hobbying in linguistics software. Thanks for creating this resource. Many of the descriptive resources out there are not accessible to to non-academics. Keep up the valuable contribution to the knowledge-sphere.

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Mark said...

I'm gonna echo what Laramie said as far as making this available to non-academics.

It's not just useful to linguists who don't speak Spanish and software engineers, either! I grew up mostly English-monolingual on the US/Mexico border and when I'd run across a difference from prescriptive use like this, I'd wonder if I was forgetting an exception or missing a nuance or whatever, so it's great to see these kinds of things examined.


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