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The <i>me pudet</i> construction in the history of Latin

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Abstract

In this paper I investigate the diachronic development and downfall of the <i>me</i><sub>ACC</sub> <i>pudet</i><sub>3SG</sub> &#8216;I am ashamed&#8217; construction in Latin, with a view to exploring the factors that played a significant role in the process of constructional analogization that lead this impersonal pattern to be reinterpreted as personal and transitive over centuries. By comparing the kind of stimuli typically associated with the <i>pudet-</i>type verbs and their specific meaning, I show that they differ in view of different degrees of agentivity and volitionality exerted by the experiencer. <i>Paenitet</i> &#8216;to repent&#8217; reveals itself as being the most agentive verb and this is why it underwent an early process of personalization, achieved only later by those verbs whose semantics entailed a lower degree of rational involvement and control over the experience. This paper shows that semantic factors may influence the formal coding of a given verb-specific role, accelerate its syntactic reinterpretation and lead to constructional changes.

References

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