THE 'LIGHT SUBJECT CONSTRAINT' IN SPOKEN SPANISH
The purpose of this study is to explore Chafe's hypothesis (1994) that grammatical subjects obey the light subject constraint (LSC). The data consists of six half-an-hour semiformal interviews with Caracas native speakers recorded in 1987. Chafe's hypothesis is based on the claim that in any given clause one of the referents receives the unique and special status of grammatical subject. Subjects show two types of restrictions: i) from the information load perspective, they tend to code given or accessible rather than new information; and ii) from a referential viewpoint, they can have three degrees of importance: primary, secondary or trivial (1994: 88). Information load (high or low) and referential importance combined constitute the LSC: Chafe's findings prove that in English subjects tend, on the one hand, to be given or accessible and, on the other, of primary or secondary importance. Heavy subjects, on the contrary, tend to be of trivial importance. Broderick 1999 confirms the LSC's existence in a conversational English corpus. All subjects in the corpus have been coded according to information load and referential importance. The results of the analysis show that spoken Spanish also conforms to LSC.
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