Chapter published in:Aspects of Latin American Spanish Dialectology: In honor of Terrell A. Morgan
Edited by Manuel Díaz-Campos and Sandro Sessarego
[Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics 32] 2021
► pp. 47–68
Variable constraints on se lo(s) in Mexican Spanish
We examine the alternation between normative se lo/la and se los/las to express a plural indirect object and singular direct object. Using corpus data from Mexico City and Monterrey, we find that significant predictors of the more frequent variant, se los, are number of the verb, referential distance, and presence of a dative prepositional phrase. Contra previous claims that se los marks plurality in ambiguous dative referents, we argue that it serves as an accessibility marker that makes a plural referent more salient if not recently mentioned. Se los is used most frequently with first-person singular verbs, resulting in (near-)fixed expressions. These findings demonstrate the sensitivity of Spanish clitics to discourse-pragmatic context and highlight limitations of sentence-level analysis of morphosyntactic variants.
Keywords: datives, object clitics, Mexican Spanish, discourse accessibility
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