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Origins of Latin American form 'olvidarse'

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Beachxhair, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    I've read (in an article by Maldonado, about the differences between the reflexive and middle voice in Spanish) that in Latin American Spanish the pronoun se is used with olvidar to form a kind of middle construction expressing the unexpectedness of the action; the fact that it is unintentional.

    Me olvidé las llaves (example from Argentina, cited in the article, which says that the 'me' is omitted in Castillian Spanish).

    My question is how the pronominal form came to exist in LA Spanish, but not in Castillian. Was the pronominal form the original Vulgar Latin construction, or did this develop later?

    Thanks
     
  2. Quiviscumque

    Quiviscumque Moderator

    Ciudad del paraíso
    Spanish-Spain
    With all due respect for Mr/Ms Maldonado, as a native Spanish speaker from Spain I must disagree.

    "Olvidé las llaves" sounds now a little stiff.
    "Me olvidé de las llaves" is more common.
    And the most common form is now (in Spain) "se me olvidaron las llaves".

    The (ab)use of pronominal constructions is typical of modern standard Spanish, in both Spain and America. "Latin American" has nothing to do with Latin:) ; it is a French coinage from middle 19th century.
     
  3. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    I agree with Quiviscumque. The pronominal use of "olvidar" is very, very common in peninsular Spanish.
     
  4. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    If you are referring to R. Maldonado (2008) (“Spanish Middle Syntax. A Usage Based Proposal for Grammar Teaching”. In de Knop, Sabine (ed.) Cognitive Approaches to Pedagogical Grammar. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 155-196), what the author actually says is that, in the cited example, "me can be omitted" (in all varieties of Spanish), and that "while dejar ‘leave’ and olvidar ‘forget’ cannot be used with that [pronominal] construction in Mexico, they are perfectly normal in Spain and Argentina".
     
  5. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    I know 'Latin American' has nothing to do with Latin lol :) Didn't know the French coined the term though.

    Thanks, this is very interesting :) Why do you think that pronominal constructions are changing in contemporary Spanish? Have any linguists written about it?

    By the way, is 'se me olvidaron" the impersonal 'se'?

    Thanks again
     
  6. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    I am interested as to whether the pronominal form 'olvidarse' was the VL construction, or whether it was just 'olvidar' in Latin...If anyone could shed some light on this, thank you :)
     
  7. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    No, it's a pronominal "se".
    This is what the DPD says about it:
     
  8. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    The corresponding Latin verb is obliviscor, i.e. a deponent. As you may know, many deponent verbs ended up being reflexive in Romance, but there is no strict correlation, and the link in many cases is probably semantic rather than morphosyntactic. Furthermore, olvidar does not descend directly from obliviscor, but from a presumed VL formation *oblitare (< oblitus). I'm not sure anyone can say what the syntactic construction of this verb was in VL.
     
  9. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    Well actually it is derived from the past participle of "oblivisci" ("obliviscor" is the first person, "oblivisci" is the infinitive), which is "oblitus" (and as far as I know, not of "oblitare"). And as you said, "oblivisci" is a deponent verb, meaning that its morfology is the morfology of a passive voice but the meaning is active.
     
  10. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    Yes, that's what I was trying to say: VL replaced oblivisci with a new verb *oblitare based on the past participle of oblivisci, oblitus. Given the outcomes in the other Romance languages, I would guess that *oblitare​ was a simple transitive verb (i.e. not pronominal/reflexive), but there could always be minority/regional variations in usage.
     
  11. Quiviscumque

    Quiviscumque Moderator

    Ciudad del paraíso
    Spanish-Spain
    Dear Beachxhair, thankfully, I am not a linguist and you are not a student of mine:); your potential for asking unanswerable questions is really incredible!
    I should add to the flawless scholarship of the above posts two little remarks:

    -"Olvidar" could always be used pronominally. For example:
    Dejeme y olvideme,
    el rostro recliné sobre el Amado
    But nowadays the pronominal variant is overwhelmingly used except in very formal speech.

    -Se me olvidaron las llaves. The grammatical subject is "las llaves" and the physical agent (yo) becomes just a dativus commodi (me). That is to say, "Someway the keys become lost, and I am suffering the consequences". Nice, isn't it? But we can do even better: Se me quemó la comida, Se me rompió un vaso.
     

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