Pragmatic forces in the evolution of <italic>voseo</italic> object pronouns from os to te in colonial Spanish

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Vos is a singular/plural second person pronoun in medieval Spanish. In object positions, vos evolves to os during the 15th century (Rini 1992). In the singular, the expansion of te at the expense of os in Colonial Spanish derives from the morphological leveling with the singular paradigm (Fontanella de Weinberg, 1977). Using tools from discourse analysis and pragmatics, this research analyzes 554 cases of voseo objects from different Hispanic regions (1500–1898), expanding on findings by Díaz Collazos (2015) on Colombian Spanish. Results suggest that te is introduced by 1568 in voseo contexts as a strategy of softening the commanding force in directive speech acts, a pragmatic advantage leading to the gradual extinction of os in the 18th century.


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