In early Italo-Romance two means code the agent in passive constructions: per ‘through’ and da ‘from’. Whilst similarities and differences have never been questioned, I claim that the analysis of prepositions’ semantics is essential to understand agent defocussing strategies. I propose a corpus-based investigation on Early Sicilian (14th century), conducted on Archivio testuale del siciliano antico (<http://artesia.ovi.cnr.it>, University of Catania). My framework is Cognitive Grammar (Langacker 1991; Luraghi 2003), which interprets prepositions as meaningful elements, expressing the spatial organisation among entities. The agentive value derives from the projection of these spatial relations onto an abstract domain: the directional configuration of prototypical transitive events (agent→patient). Two different metaphors, however, are involved (da=Origin; per=Channel), yielding different representations of the relation ‘agent/event’. I argue that these conceptualizations convey different degrees of defocussing, when both prepositions grammaticalise an agentive meaning. This hypothesis is reinforced by prepositions’ distribution, reflecting the degree of transitivity of the passive construction in which they are involved.
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2010|