The Spanish dative alternation revisited

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We examine Spanish dative alternations, and argue that although there are parallels to English, Harley’s (2003) analysis of English cannot be extended to Spanish, contra Bleam (2001). We propose an alternative based on the Morphosyntactic Alignment Principle of Beavers (2006), wherein the thematic role of the dative argument is a truth conditional strengthening of the thematic role of the corresponding oblique, which follows from the dative vs. oblique case alternation. We support this analysis by showing that it accounts for a range of less-oft discussed Spanish dative/oblique alternations. We then subsume Harley’s phrase structural analysis of English and our case-based analysis of Spanish under a more general notion of relative morphosyntactic prominence, predicting both the similarities and differences between the languages.


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