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Syncretism of plural forms in Spanish Dialects

  • María Mare EMAIL logo
From the journal The Linguistic Review


One of the main discussions about the interaction between morphology and syntax revolves around the richness or poverty of features and wherever this richness/poverty is found either in the syntactic structure or the lexical items. A phenomenon subject to this debate has been syncretism, especially in theories that assume late insertion such as Distributed Morphology. This paper delves into the syncretism observed between the first person plural and the third person in the clitic domain in some Spanish dialects. Our analysis will lead to a revision of the distribution of person features and their relationship with plural number, while at the same time it will shed light on other morphological alternations displayed in Spanish dialects; that is, subject-verb unagreement and mesoclisis in imperatives. In order to explain the behavior of the data under discussion, I propose that lexical items are specified for all the relevant features at the moment of insertion, although the values of these features can be neutralized. I argue that the distribution proposed allows for some fundamental generalizations about the vocabulary inventories in Spanish varieties, and shows that the variation pattern exhibits an *ABA effect, i.e., only contiguous cells in a paradigm are syncretic.

Corresponding author: María Mare, Facultad de Humanidades, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Neuquén/Río Negro, Argentina; and Instituto Patagónico de Estudios de Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (IPEHCS-CONICET), Neuquén, Argentina, E-mail:


I thank the useful suggestions of two anonymous reviewers and the editors of this Special Issue. I would also like to thank the invaluable help of Juanjo Arias.


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Published Online: 2021-04-07
Published in Print: 2021-06-25

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