The many ways to say ‘you’ in Spanish

The article «Not just you: The construction of radio audiences through second-person choice in Peninsular Spanish», by Miguel A. Aijón Oliva, has just been published in issue 60 of Language and Communication. The full text of the article can be freely accessed for a limited period here.

The study is concerned with the choice among second-person grammatical paradigms when addressing nonspecific audiences in radio discourse. Standard Peninsular Spanish has four different sets of morphematical elements allowing for a second-person characterization, which are respectively represented by the pronouns , usted, vosotros, and ustedes. These can be classified into two different persons—here labelled prototypical and …

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On variable object marking and cognitive salience

The use of central syntactic objects—in traditional functional terms, direct and indirect ones—is a rich source of formal and meaningful variation in Spanish, which accords them a prominent position in our current line of research. Together with the fact that they can establish verbal agreement through coreferential clitics under a variety of circumstances, they are also variably indexed with the preposition a (roughly ‘to’) in a rather peculiar fashion.

(1a) Encontré Ø las llaves ‘I found the keys’

(1b) Encontré a mi vecino ‘I found [to] my neighbor’

Variability is usually restricted to contexts with just one central object whose functional-cognitive status can oscillate to an extent. When there are …

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