Chapter published in:Studies in Historical Ibero-Romance Morpho-Syntax
Edited by Miriam Bouzouita, Ioanna Sitaridou and Enrique Pato
[Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics 16] 2018
► pp. 173–194
On the position of overt subjects in infinitival clauses in Spanish and Portuguese
Pragmatic, semantic and frequency-based motivations
A synchronic survey of prepositional infinitive clauses reveals that the position of the subject depends heavily on the preposition heading the infinitival clause; however, equivalent prepositions in Spanish and Portuguese do not necessarily trigger a preference for the same word order. The differences can best be explained if the overt subject infinitive is analysed not as a single construction, but as a cover term for a series of related but independent constructions that are, diachronically, subject to different semantic, pragmatic and analogical pressures. Subsequent entrenchment of the most frequent patterns can eventually cause the subject to appear either in pre- or post-infinitival position by default. This process affects Spanish more than Portuguese, where the availability of an ‘inflected infinitive’ brings the syntax of infinitival clauses more into line with that of finite ones.
Keywords: Spanish, Portuguese, subject, infinitive, word order, frequency, preposition, position
Published online: 17 July 2018
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