Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton February 15, 2021

¡Mira! The grammar-attention interface in the Spanish left periphery

  • Laura González López and Andreas Trotzke EMAIL logo
From the journal The Linguistic Review


In this paper, we focus on Spanish hearer-oriented particles like the highly frequent verb-based particle mira (lit. ‘look’). We provide a detailed syntactic account of these particles by demonstrating (i) that they must be distinguished from both vocative/appellative and expressive/exclamative particles, and (ii) that they feature illocutionary restrictions familiar from the class of discourse particles in languages other than Spanish. Since our proposal locates mira in the information-structural layer of the clause and, at the same time, demonstrates its sensitivity to the illocutionary component of sentence interpretation, we thus raise more general questions about the interaction between the syntax of speech acts and the syntactic encoding of information structure.

Corresponding author: Andreas Trotzke, Fachbereich Linguistik, Universität Konstanz, Universitätsstraße 10, 78457Konstanz, Germany, E-mail


We thank the audience at LAGB 2019 (UCL London) and our anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and discussion. Andreas Trotzke gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Generalitat de Catalunya/Secretariat for Universities and Research of the Ministry of Economy and Knowledge (grant no. 2017-BP00031). Laura González López thanks Cristina Sánchez López for her help and support through the years.


Alm, Maria, Janina Behr & Kerstin Fischer. 2018. Modal particles and sentence type restrictions: A construction grammar perspective. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 3(1). 133. in Google Scholar

Bayer, Josef & Hans-Georg Obenauer. 2011. Discourse particles, clause structure, and question types. The Linguistic Review 28. 449–491. in Google Scholar

Bayer, Josef & Andreas Trotzke. 2015. The derivation and interpretation of left peripheral discourse particles. In Josef Bayer, Roland Hinterhölzl & Andreas Trotzke (eds.), Discourse-oriented syntax, 13–40. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/la.226.02baySearch in Google Scholar

Bonami, Olivier, Danièle Godard & Brigitte Kampers-Manhe. 2004. Adverb classification. In Francis Corblin & Henriëtte de Swart (eds.), Handbook of French semantics, 143–184. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Search in Google Scholar

Briz, Antonio, Salvador Pons & José Portolés (eds.). 2008. Diccionario de partículas discursivas del español [online:].Search in Google Scholar

Cardinaletti, Anna. 2015. What do you do if you don’t have modal particles? In Ellen Brandner, Anna Czypionka, Constantin Freitag & Andreas Trotzke (eds.), Webschrift for Josef Bayer, 16–21. Konstanz: University of Konstanz.Search in Google Scholar

Chomsky, Noam. 2000. Minimalist inquiries: The framework. In Roger Martin, David Michaels & Juan Uriagereka (eds.), Step by step: Essays on minimalist syntax in honor of Howard Lasnik, 89–155. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Chomsky, Noam. 2001. Derivation by phase. In Michael Kenstowicz (ed.), Ken Hale: A life in language, 1–52. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Cinque, Guglielmo. 1999. Adverbs and functional heads: A cross-linguistic perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Coniglio, Marco. 2011. Die Syntax der deutschen Modalpartikeln: Ihre Distribution und Lizenzierung in Haupt- und Nebensätzen. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.10.1524/9783050053578Search in Google Scholar

Corbett, Greville G. 2006. Agreement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Corr, Alice. 2016. Ibero-Romance and the syntax of the utterance. Cambridge: University of Cambridge PhD Dissertation.Search in Google Scholar

D’Alessandro, Roberta & Marc Van Oostendorp. 2016. When imperfections are perfect: Prosody, phi-features and deixis in Central and Southern Italian vocatives. In Ernestina Carrilho, Alexandra Fiéis, Maria Lobo & Sandra Pereira (eds.), Romance languages and linguistic theory, vol. 10, 61–82. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/rllt.10.04dalSearch in Google Scholar

Espinal, Maria T. 2013a. On the structure of vocatives. In Barbara Sonnenhauser & Patrizia Noel (eds.), Vocative!, 109–132. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110304176.109Search in Google Scholar

Espinal, Maria T. 2013b. Bare nominals, bare predicates: Properties and related types. In Johannes Kabatek & Albert Wall (eds.), New perspectives on bare noun phrases in Romance and beyond, 63–94. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/slcs.141.03espSearch in Google Scholar

Foolen, Ad. 1996. Pragmatic particles. In Jef Verschueren, Jan-Ola Östman, Jan Blommaert & Chris Bulcaen (eds.), Handbook of pragmatics, 1–24. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/hop.2.pra3Search in Google Scholar

Fried, Mirjam. 2015. Construction grammar. In Tibor Kiss & Artemis Alexiadou (eds.), Syntax: Theory and analysis, vol. 2, 974–1003. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0061Search in Google Scholar

Giannakidou, Anastasia & Alda Mari. 2020. Veridicality in grammar and thought: Modality, propositional attitudes and negation. To appear with University of Chicago Press. Available at:∼giannaki/pubs/BookGiannakidouMari.pdf.10.7208/chicago/9780226763484.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

González López, Laura. 2019. Aspectos gramaticales del vocativo en español. Madrid: Universidad Complutense de Madrid PhD Dissertation.Search in Google Scholar

Grohmann, Kleanthes. 2011. Anti-locality: Too-close relations in grammar. In Cedric Boeckx (ed.), The Oxford handbook of linguistic minimalism, 260–290. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Grosz, Patrick. 2014. German “doch”: An element that triggers a contrast presupposition. Proceedings of the Chicago Linguistic Society 46. 163–178.Search in Google Scholar

Grosz, Patrick. To appear. Discourse particles. In Lisa Matthewson, Cécile Meier, Hotze Rullmann & Thomas E. Zimmermann (eds.), The companion to semantics. Oxford: Wiley.10.1002/9781118788516.sem047Search in Google Scholar

Grosz, Patrick. 2016. Information structure and discourse particles. In Caroline Fery & Shinichiro Ishihara (eds.), The Oxford handbook of information structure, 336–358. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199642670.013.36Search in Google Scholar

Haegeman, Liliane. 2014. West Flemish verb-based discourse markers and the articulation of the speech act layer. Studia Linguistica 68. 116–139. in Google Scholar

Haegeman, Liliane & Virgina Hill. 2013. The syntactization of discourse. In Raffaella Folli, Christina Sevdali & Robert Truswell (eds.), Syntax and its limits, 370–390. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199683239.003.0018Search in Google Scholar

Haselow, Alexander. 2019. Discourse marker sequences: Insights into the serial order of communicative tasks in real-time turn production. Journal of Pragmatics 146. 1–18. in Google Scholar

Hill, Virginia. 2007. Vocatives and the pragmatics-syntax interface. Lingua 117. 2077–2105. in Google Scholar

Hill, Virginia. 2014. Vocatives: How syntax meets with pragmatics. Leiden: Brill.10.1163/9789004261389Search in Google Scholar

Huddleston, Rodney D. & Geoffrey Pullum. 2002. The Cambridge grammar of the English language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/9781316423530Search in Google Scholar

Krifka, Manfred. 2014. Embedding illocutionary acts. In Tom Roeper & Margaret Speas (eds.), Recursion: Complexity in cognition, 125–155. Dordrecht: Springer.10.1007/978-3-319-05086-7_4Search in Google Scholar

Krifka, Manfred. To appear. Layers of assertive clauses: Propositions, judgements, commitments, acts. In Jutta Hartmann & Angelika Wöllstein (eds.), Propositionale Argumente im Sprachvergleich: Theorie und Empirie. Narr: Tübingen.Search in Google Scholar

Krivonosov, Aleksej. 1977. Deutsche Modalpartikeln im System der unflektierten Wortklassen. In Harald Weydt (ed.), Aspekte der Modalpartikeln, 176–216. Tübingen: Niemeyer.Search in Google Scholar

Lohnstein, Horst. 2020. The grammatical basis of verb second: The case of German. In Rebecca Woods & Sam Wolfe (eds.), Rethinking verb second, 177–207. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/oso/9780198844303.003.0008Search in Google Scholar

López Bobo, María Jesús. 2002. La interjección. Aspectos gramaticales. Madrid: Arco-Libros, S.L.Search in Google Scholar

McCready, Eric. 2008. What man does. Linguistics and Philosophy 31. 617–724. in Google Scholar

Moro, Andrea. 2003. Notes on vocative case. A case study in clause structure. In Josep Quer & Jan Schroten (eds.), Romance languages and linguistic theory 2001, 247–261. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/cilt.245.15morSearch in Google Scholar

Norrick, Neal R. 2009. Interjections as pragmatic markers. Journal of Pragmatics 41. 866–891. in Google Scholar

Pesetsky, David & Esther Torrego. 2007. The syntax of valuation and the interpretability of features. In Simin Karimi, Vida Samiian & Wendy K. Wilkins (eds.), Phrasal and clausal architecture: Syntactic derivation and interpretation, 262–294. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/la.101.14pesSearch in Google Scholar

Pons, Salvador. 1998. Conexión y conectores: estudio de su relación en el registro formal. Cuadernos de Filología Española. Valencia: Universitat de València.Search in Google Scholar

Portner, Paul. 2004. Vocatives, topics, and imperatives. Ms. Georgetown University. Available at: in Google Scholar

Preminger, Omer. 2014. Agreement and its failures. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.10.7551/mitpress/9780262027403.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Real Academia Española (RAE). Banco de datos (CORPES XXI) [online]. Corpus del Español del Siglo XXI (CORPES). Available at: in Google Scholar

Real Academia Española (RAE) & Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española (ASALE). 2009. Nueva gramática de la lengua española. Morfología y Sintaxis I y II. Madrid: Espasa.Search in Google Scholar

Reis, Marga. 1999. On sentence types in German: An enquiry into the relationship between grammar and pragmatics. Interdisciplinary Journal for Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis 4. 195–236.Search in Google Scholar

Rizzi, Luigi. 1997. The fine structure of the left periphery. In Liliane Haegeman (ed.), Elements of grammar: Handbook in generative syntax, 281–337. Dordrecht: Kluwer.10.1007/978-94-011-5420-8_7Search in Google Scholar

Rizzi, Luigi. 2014. Syntactic cartography and the syntacticisation of scope-discourse semantics. In Anne Reboul (ed.), Mind, values, and metaphysics, 517–533. Dordrecht: Springer.10.1007/978-3-319-05146-8_30Search in Google Scholar

Rodríguez Ponce, María Isabel. 2005. La interjección y sus clases. Barcelona: Liceus.Search in Google Scholar

Sadock, Jerry. 1971. Queclaratives. In Proceedings of the annual meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, vol. 7, 223–231. Chicago, IL: Chicago Linguistic Society.Search in Google Scholar

Slioussar, Natalia. 2007. Grammar and information structure. A study with reference to Russian. Utrecht: Utrecht University, LOT PhD Dissertation.Search in Google Scholar

Slocum, Poppy. 2010. The vocative and the left periphery. In Handout presented at the vocative! workshop. Bamberg, Germany: University of Bamberg.Search in Google Scholar

Sánchez López, Cristina. 2017. Mirativity in Spanish: The case of the particle mira. Review of Cognitive Linguistics 15. 489–514. in Google Scholar

Slocum, Poppy. 2016. The Syntax of address. New York: Stony Brook University PhD Dissertation.Search in Google Scholar

Stavrou, Melita. 2014. About the vocative. In Lilia Schürcks, Anastasia Giannakidou & Urtzi Etxeberria (eds.), The nominal structure in Slavic and beyond, 299–342. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9781614512790.299Search in Google Scholar

Taglicht, Josef. 1984. Message and emphasis: On focus and scope in English. London: Longman.Search in Google Scholar

Tonhauser, Judith, David Beaver, Craige Roberts & Mandy Simons. 2013. Toward a taxonomy of projective content. Language 89. 66–109. in Google Scholar

Trotzke, Andreas & Sergio Monforte. 2019. Basque question particles: Implications for a syntax of discourse particles. Linguistic Variation 19. 352–385. in Google Scholar

Villa-García, Julio. 2015. The syntax of multiple-que sentences in Spanish: Along the left periphery. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/ihll.2Search in Google Scholar

Villa-García, Julio. 2019. Recomplementation in English and Spanish: Delineating the CP space. Glossa 4(1). 56–44. in Google Scholar

Zimmermann, Malte. 2011. Discourse particles. In Paul Portner, Claudia Maienborn & Klaus von Heusinger (eds.), Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning, 2011–2038. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2021-02-15
Published in Print: 2021-02-23

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 25.9.2023 from
Scroll to top button