This study considers the historical classification of the truncated participles in Spanish (e.g., preso, suelto). The etymology of these irregular participles is uncontroversial as they are forms inherited from Latin, yet to date there have been few studies that describe the historical processes involved that have shaped the modern classification of irregular participles. It remains unclear, for example, why historically some truncated participles could function as a verb, while others only functioned as an adjective. This study demonstrates that late attestations of agreement of truncated participles in compound tenses emphasize the resultant state of the object rather than an anterior, perfective action performed by an agent. To justify this reading, this study considers the syntactic restructuring of the truncated participle in the evolution of the Spanish perfect tenses. Data analysis reveals that regular participles, when used in perfective constructions with telic verbs, incorporate into their semantic base the undeniable existence of an external argument (an agent). However, the truncated participle, when studied in its diachrony, loses the ability to license an agent, and the conceptualization of the whole event moves away from agent-centeredness to patient-centeredness. Whereas in the thirteenth century the truncated participles conquisto, muerto, preso, and suelto functioned both as a verb (perfective) and an adjective (resultative) without a corresponding change in morphology, the truncated participle gradually became excluded from perfective constructions because of this change in argument structure.
Selected Proceedings of the 15th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Chad Howe, Sarah E. Blackwell, and Margaret Lubbers Quesada
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