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Te lo tengo dicho muchas veces. Resultatives between coercion, relevance and reanalysis

Ulrich Detges
Published Online: 2018-08-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2018-0014


This paper deals with the question of how and why resultative constructions change into anteriors. This discussion will be based on synchronic data concerning tener + past participle, a resultative construction used in modern Spanish. One of the latter's most frequent is te lo tengo dicho 'I have (already) told you'. This is remarkable since decir 'to tell' is a non-transitional verb; te lo tengo dicho thus violates the requirement that resultatives should only combine with transitional verbs. In the literature, such mismatches between the semantics of a given construction and the meaning of its lexical filler have been claimed to normally trigger coercion, i.e. an inferential repair mechanism giving rise to special meaning effects. Thus, coercion - despite being conceived as a purely synchronic mechanism - is a prime candidate for an explanation of the change from resultative to anterior. In line with this hypothesis, occurrences of te lo tengo dicho are attested in my corpus where the latter is specified by quantifying adverbials such as muchas veces 'many times'. However, speaker judgements indiacte that even te lo tengo dicho muchas veces is not an iterative anterior construction, but still a resultative. Based on synchronic data taken from the CREA-corpus, it will be shown that in the vast majority of its occurrences, te lo tengo dicho is part of an dialogal discourse pattern where certain argumentative effects based on its resultative meaning are highly relevant. Crucially, therefore, in such "strong" uses a coercive shift towards an anterior meaning is excluded. On a more abstract level, it will be shown that coercion is controlled by pragmatic factors; in the case of te lo tengo dicho muchas veces, conceptual/semantic plausibility is systematically overridden by pragmatic relevance.

Keywords: coercion; relevance; reanalysis


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About the article

Received: 2017-11-22

Accepted: 2018-04-27

Published Online: 2018-08-25

Citation Information: Open Linguistics, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 260–279, ISSN (Online) 2300-9969, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2018-0014.

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© by Ulrich Detges, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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