Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

On the use of the article with people's proper names in galician

Eduardo Louredo Rodríguez


This paper examines the use of the definite article with proper names designating people in  Galician. In Galician there is an area where the definite article can be used with proper names and  another where this does not occur (Álvarez &  Xove 2002: 380; Sousa 1994).  Thus some speakers  produce utterances such as A Luísa veu onte  (DEF.ART - Luísa came yesterday ) whereas other people say Luísa veu onte  ( Luísa came yesterday ). The paper looks at this question while seeking to contribute to the study of Galician dialect  var iation, still inadequately described, through comparison with what occurs in other (particularly  Romance) languages. It commences with a review of the functions of the definite article and the  semantic characteristics of personal names (Gary - Prieur 1994 ; V an Langendonck 2007), and looks at the  extent of the phenomenon and its social status in other languages, especially in Romance. The next  section describes the dialectal distribution of the use of the article with proper names in Galician based  on two twen tieth - century geolinguistic studies,  Atlas Lingüístico de la Península Ibérica  (ALPI) and Atlas  Lingüístico Galego  (ALGa), in order to establish where the phenomenon occurs. In this connection, following an assessment of the usefulness of studies in lingui stic geography  for studying syntactic variation, it will be concluded that one must be very cautious  data, on account of certain metho do logical problems that we perceive in this atlas. As our main  conclusion, we will argue that the mot ivation for the use of the article with proper names in Galician is a  process of the article's functional expansion, also obs erved in other languages (Lyons 1999). In an  attempt to demonstrate this hypothesis, the phenomenon is compared to the use of the a rticle with  another set of nouns, kinship terms, which share some semantic features with propers names.

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