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Thread: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

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    Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    I've tried to search for an existing thread on this topic, but I couldn't find one....(Sorry if one does exist and this has to be merged with it .)

    In Spanish, a 'redundant' pronoun is often used, such as le in this (rather odd ) sentence I took from an online dictionary:

    "Acostumbro a hablarle a mi perro"

    Where does this "redundant" pronoun originate? Is it a relic from an earlier stage of the language where it was necessary?

    Thank you

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    I suspect it is because in Spanish (a) word order tends to be somewhat free and (b) where the direct object is a human or higher animal it needs to be proceeded by a, which also serves to indicate the indirect object. Throwing in the extra pronoun helps prevent ambiguity and has come to be used even when unnecessary or for emphasis.

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    Such expressions are also common in Greek. Some times they give emphasis, some times are just redundant words that give a special flavor to the speech or the speaker.

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    As you may know, the direct object pronouns lo(s)/la(s) are also used redundantly when the object is fronted for emphasis:

    Esa chamarra la compré el mes pasado. "I bought *that* jacket last month"

    The difference between the use of la in the above sentence, and the use of le(s) that you mentioned, is that le(s) can be used redundantly regardless of whether the indirect object ("a mi perro" in your sentence) is fronted or not.

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    In Gavril's example la is not (I think) redundant. It is an obligatory resumptive pronoun, needed to encase the topic (esa chamarra) into the syntax of the main cluase.
    Last edited by fdb; 20th September 2013 at 10:55 AM.

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    To clarify, in all Romance languages we can use pronouns redundantly and it's usual in spoken language.

    For example: te l'ho detto a te, je te l'ai dit à toi, digo-te a ti, te digo a ti.

    Neverthless Spanish language is the only one that requires redundant pronouns when there is a prepositional (dative) pronoun in one sentence.

    Example: ho detto a lei di non andarci, j'ai dit à elle de n'y pas aller but te he dicho a ti.

    I think, as Hulalessar said, that it's due to the fact that Spanish is the only language in which there is the so called personal a so after some verbs you can't say, without using a redundant pronun, if there is a direct or an indirect object.

    Es. I hand him/I hand to him. In Italian one say consegno lui/consegno a lui, in Spanish if one say entrego a él/entrego a él it's not clear the meaning.
    In Italian, French and Portuguese the preposition a indicates unequivocally an indirect object but in Spanish it doesn't.
    If you say le entrego a él it's clear that there is an indirect object.
    Last edited by Nino83; 20th September 2013 at 8:03 AM. Reason: in Spanish "if" one say (added "if")

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    You cannot say entrego a él; a él is only used for emphasis or where you need to make it clear you mean "him" rather then "her". You must say either le entrego or le entrego a él.

    I believe Romanian also uses redundant pronouns to the same extent as Spanish and also has a construction similar to the personal a​.

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by fdb View Post
    In Gavril's example la is not (I think) redundant. It is an obligatory resumptive pronpun, needed to encase the topic (esa chamarra) into the syntax of the main cluase.
    In what sense is la obligatory in the sentence

    Esa chamarra la compré el mes pasado

    but not le in the sentence,

    Al Sr. Urrutia le vendimos la casa de veraneo

    ?

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavril View Post
    In what sense is la obligatory in the sentence

    Esa chamarra la compré el mes pasado

    but not le in the sentence,

    Al Sr. Urrutia le vendimos la casa de veraneo

    ?
    Both "le" and "la" are mandatory in both your sentences.
    Mientras el asno está echado, no puede estar levantado. (Timoneda)

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by Peterdg View Post
    Both "le" and "la" are mandatory in both your sentences.
    OK, but Fdb seemed to be implying in post #5 that "le" in the original sentence (Acostumbro a hablarle a mi perro) was less obligatory than the "la" in Esa chamarra la compré el mes pasado: he said that le in the former was redundant, but la in the latter wasn't. If both are obligatory, then I don't understand what distinction was being made.

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by Hulalessar View Post
    You cannot say entrego a él
    Yes, in Spanish redundant pronoun is mandatory while in Italian, French and Portuguese it isn't.
    Last edited by Nino83; 20th September 2013 at 8:01 AM.

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    Mandatory or "redundant"? Well, a difficult question. In depends on the historical period, the region and the register. See a summary in the Real Academia "Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas":

    http://www.rae.es/dpd/srv/search?id=elLl31yYnD65MTS9uF (#5)

    That description corresponds just to present standard prose Spanish; according to it, all our poets and all our classics were solecists!

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    I think we need to distinguish between (a) redundant pronouns i.e. those which appear to be unnecessary and (b) emphatic or disambiguating pronouns. You can tell the difference because redundant pronouns refer to a noun, whilst emphatic or disambiguating pronouns refer to another pronoun.

    In Le dio la carta a Juan, le is redundant - it refers to Juan. In Le dio la carta a él, a él refers to le. It is emphatic where you mean "He gave it to him" or "He's the one he gave it to"; it is disambiguating if you want to make it clear that what is meant is "him" as opposed to "her" or "you".

    Omitting or using emphatic or disambiguating pronouns is never grammatically wrong.

    Whether and to what extent redundant pronouns are compulsory and in what circumstance they should be avoided is not something on which I feel I can offer an authoritative opinion. Indeed, Googling suggests that authoritative opinion is divided. The best you can do I think is to give examples of where they are usually employed and which no one considers to be incorrect.

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    For example in Spanish we have to say te digo a ti while digo a ti is grammatically wrong.
    In this case we don't use a ti to disambiguate the person whom we speak to but also in this case the pronoun te is mandatory.

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavril View Post
    OK, but Fdb seemed to be implying in post #5 that "le" in the original sentence (Acostumbro a hablarle a mi perro) was less obligatory than the "la" in Esa chamarra la compré el mes pasado: he said that le in the former was redundant, but la in the latter wasn't. If both are obligatory, then I don't understand what distinction was being made.
    Yes, and with reason. When the object (direct object or indirect object) appears before the verb, then the duplication is necessary. In "Acostumbro a hablarle a mi perro", the object appears after the verb and hence the duplication is not necessary. In "Esa chamarra la compré el mes pasado"​ the direct object appears before the verb and hence duplication is mandatory.
    Mientras el asno está echado, no puede estar levantado. (Timoneda)

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    I think that the real question is why in sentences like te digo a ti, le entrego a él "te" and "le" are mandatory.
    This happens only in Spanish.

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by Nino83 View Post
    I think that the real question is why in sentences like te digo a ti, le entrego a él "te" and "le" are mandatory.
    This happens only in Spanish.
    Put like that it suggests that the basic form is verb + a + pronoun or that you need pronouns both before and after the verb.

    You can have le digo a él and le digo but not *digo a él. Le digo is the minimum possible and is just the way it is and is only mandatory in the same way that French je lui dis is mandatory.

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by Hulalessar View Post
    Put like that it suggests that the basic form is verb + a + pronoun or that you need pronouns both before and after the verb.

    You can have le digo a él and le digo but not *digo a él. Le digo is the minimum possible and is just the way it is and is only mandatory in the same way that French je lui dis is mandatory.
    In French, I think both direct and indirect pronouns are necessary, Je le lui dis...

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    Yes, but you can also say: je le dis à lui. It puts more weight on the indirect object.

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    Re: Origins of Spanish repeated object pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by Hulalessar View Post
    and is only mandatory in the same way that French je lui dis is mandatory.
    So only in Italian and in Portuguese one can say dico a te, ho dato a lui, digo a ti, dei a ele as in English I tell (it) to him, I gave (it) to him.
    But in French there are a few verbs that allow the construction verb + à + pronoun, for example Il pense à elle (in Spanish piensa en ella, with another preposition).

    Therefore I'd say that this is the only difference because redundant pronouns are allowed and used in all Romance languages.

    Italian and Portuguese allow the structure verb + a + stressed pronoun while Spanish and French (with some exception) allow only the structure (subject) + unstressed pronoun + verb + a/à + stressed pronoun.
    Last edited by Nino83; 20th September 2013 at 6:25 PM.

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