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International Journal of Romance Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Wetzels, W. Leo

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Volume 25, Issue 2


Object clitics, agreement and dialectal variation

Javier Ormazabal
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Linguistics & Basque Studies, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Unibertsitateen Ibilbidea 5, 01006 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
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/ Juan Romero
  • Departament of Hispanic Philology, University of Extremadura (UNEX), Avenida de la Universidad s/n, 10071 Cáceres, Spain
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Published Online: 2013-07-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/probus-2013-0012


This article presents an analysis of object clitics in Spanish and some of its consequences for the theory of agreement and Case. On the empirical side, we present syntactic, morphological and semantic arguments supporting a mixed approach to object clitics where 3rd person Direct Object (DO) cliticization constitutes a genuine case of Determiner movement, but other DO and Indirect Object (IO) clitics are agreement elements. Once third person object clitics are set aside, the emerging picture is a single agreement that does not discriminate between DOs and IOs in the syntax. This idea finds striking support in Basque Leísta Dialect, where there is a 3rd person DO agreement clitic that behaves in all relevant respects like all other agreement clitics. Moreover, the consequences of this analysis extend to other properties of the object relation in Spanish, such as Differential Object Marking (DOM), and dialectal variation in the clitic field. An interesting observation that arises from this study is that the agreement nature of 1st and 2nd person clitics and the whole series of IOs is extremely robust in Spanish and remains invariable across all the dialects analyzed. Variation is thus restricted to 3rd person DO objects, where in contrast the changes are diverse and take very different directions, a fact that raises interesting questions related both to the historical evolution of the clitic system and to the theoretical analysis of Case and agreement.

Keywords: clitics; agreement; animacy; Case; Differential Object Marking (DOM); dialectal variation

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Published Online: 2013-07-27

Published in Print: 2013-09-12

Citation Information: International Journal of Latin and Romance Linguistics, Volume 25, Issue 2, Pages 301–344, ISSN (Online) 1613-4079, ISSN (Print) 0921-4771, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/probus-2013-0012.

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©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.Get Permission

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