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Volume 53, Issue 5


Propositional null objects in Spanish and the completeness of the proposition

Asela Reig Alamillo
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  • UAM – IZTAPALAPA, Av. San Rafael Atlixco 186, Col. Vicentina, Iztapalapa, 55-536, 09340 México D.F, Mexico
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Published Online: 2015-08-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2015-0023


This paper addresses the distribution of a phonetically null pronoun and the clitic lo referring to a proposition as the direct object (DO) of cognition and communication verbs in Spanish. The use of this null object referring to propositions is found cross-dialectally in Spanish, and this paper argues that the completeness of the proposition constrains in crucial ways the distribution of these two propositional anaphors. The analysis of five different cases in which the DO pronoun refers to an incomplete proposition illustrates that the null object is the anaphor preferred when the proposition being referred to is incomplete, whereas the propositional pronoun lo is preferred to refer to complete propositions. Completeness of the proposition – defined here as a gradient feature and not a binary distinction – is discussed in relation to the notion of saliency or accessibility of the referent and the data analyzed in this article for propositional anaphora is discussed in relation to NP anaphora.

Keywords: propositional anaphora; object pronouns; null objects; Spanish neuter lo


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-08-13

Published in Print: 2015-09-01

Citation Information: Linguistics, Volume 53, Issue 5, Pages 959–994, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2015-0023.

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Asela Reig Alamillo
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