Preposizioni e defocalizzazione dell’agente in italoromanzo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The paper describes passive constructions in early Italo-Romance, addressing two issues which have so far remained largely unexplored: the semantic values of the prepositions da ‘(lit.) from; by’ and per ‘(lit.) through’, which mark the defocused actor (prototypically an agent, as in the king was killed by the republicans) and the functional distribution of these prepositions, which I claim to be motivated by their semantics. The analysis is based on a cognitive grammar framework, according to which prepositions basically express the location of an entity (a trajector) with respect to a reference point (a landmark), and that this relation can be conceptualised as ‘provenance’ (‘from’) or ‘path’ (‘through’), as in a vast number of Indo-European languages. The agentive value of agentive prepositions derives from the projection of the spatial relations onto an abstract domain, specifically, the directional configuration of a prototypical transitive event (AGENT→PATIENT). ‘From’ and ‘through’ relations, however, do not describe the same alignment of trajector/landmark, and the selection of one or the other yields different representations of the relation between agent and process. We argue that these alternative conceptualizations trigger the grammaticalisation of non-identical semantic implications and that these implications embody different degrees of agent defocusing.
Original languageItalian
Title of host publicationActes del 26é Congrés de Lingüística i Filologia Romàniques. València, 6-11 de setembre de 2010. Vol. 3
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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