In Spanish, two-participant verbs of consumption (such as tragar ‘swallow’) may variably occur with the reflexive marker se. This paper provides a quantitative analysis of this variation in a corpus of spoken and written Peninsular Spanish in order to test the hypothesis that the construction with se correlates with High Transitivity (Hopper & Thompson 1980). We operationalize grammatical, semantic, and pragmatic characteristics that are associated with High Transitivity: definiteness and generalizability of the direct object, volitionality of the subject, polarity, tense and verb. Additionally, this study operationalizes person and text type in order to test the extent to which all of these characteristics correlate with the use of the reflexive clitic in Peninsular Spanish. The results show that the presence of se is primarily conditioned by the verb and that the other characteristics contribute to the use of the reflexive in varying degrees, depending on the verb.
© 2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston