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Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2020

10. ‘Hit’ semantics and physical sensations: on the development of spontaneous event constructions with Spanish dar ‘give’

Chantal Melis


Complex predicates built with dar ‘give’ and a noun carrying the primary eventive information are common in Spanish. Our focus in the present chapter rests on a specific subclass of such predicates, used to refer to physiological experiences and characterized by the presence of a sentence-initial human participant coded in the dative case (cf. Me dio hambre ‘I felt hungry’, lit. ‘To me gave hunger’). The literature on oblique subject experiencers contains many examples of parallel structures featuring a variety of light verbs. The objective of our corpus-based study is to shed light on the diachronic process by which Spanish literal ‘give’ developed its supporting function in the physiological expressions under analysis. We locate the source of the historical development in one of the polysemous senses of dar (‘hit, strike’), product of the entrenchment of an old collocational pattern (give + blow), and we trace the evolutionary path leading from the source meaning to the experiential domain, drawing special attention to a sequence of analogical extensions guided by similarities with extant forms and templates. The outlined history accounts for the fact that the experiential predicates with dar do not exhibit the reflexive marker which had to be expected if a passive or anticausative type of derivation, with an original ‘giver’ suppressed, had been involved.

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