The absolute construction in (pre)classical Spanish and Dutch. On Latin influence and natural language change.
The aim of this project is to accurately describe the development of the (pre)classical Spanish (Desaparecidas las joyas, llamaron a la policía) and Dutch (Wij zijn, alle factoren in aanmerking genomen, zeer tevreden) absolute construction (AC) on the basis of an exhaustive, corpus-based study. Previous research explained its origin either as an innovation ex novo, namely a case of Latin loan syntax in 15th-16th century erudite Renaissance environments (abrupt, direct, external influence) or either as a construction already present in Romance tradition, developing on an autochthonous, natural way in analogy with the syntactic patterns of European languages (gradual, indirect, internal influence). Yet, both hypotheses do not necessarily have to exclude each other: a native origin is not incompatible with Latin influence. Therefore this project will aim at a more encompassing explanation, whereby the principle of ‘selective frequential copying’ will be of key interest. The project has three specific objectives. The first two address the comparative-historical dimension, while the last one involves a contrastive perspective. The first purpose is to comprehensively describe the diachronic evolution of the AC from Latin to Spanish, analysing not only its structural but also its semantic changes. Secondly, the motivating factors of this change will be investigated and examined whether they are internal (analogy with other Romance vernacular languages) and/or external (Latin influence). Finally, we will try to explain from a contrastive and synchronic point of view why present-day written Spanish still shows a relatively high frequency and productivity of ACs in comparison to other European languages, in particular to Dutch. The corpus study is concerned with different text types. We will compare translated texts against the background of original (pre)classical Spanish writings of the 14th, 15th and 16th century and also analyse vernacular texts from different Discourse Traditions without translation background. This way we will not only be able to identify the typological differences between Latin and (pre)classical Spanish in the field of the non-finite syntactic AC construction, but also to determine the specific role of translation in contact-induced change. The last contrastive part is based on written corpora of Spanish and Dutch.