From three-place predicates to auxiliary verbs in Romance languages. On the cross-linguistic equivalence of putting verbs in Spanish, Portuguese and French

Start - End 
2015 - 2019 (ongoing)
Department of Linguistics
Research Focus 



This PhD project is situated within the field of Romance comparative Linguistics and studies the behavior of verbs of putting, which are commonly used to express placement movements in space. It analyzes the lexical verb class comparatively in three Romance languages: Spanish, Portuguese and French. More particularly, the study intends to focus on three near-synonymous verb pairs, namely poner/meter (Sp.), pôr/meter (Pt.) and poser/mettre (Fr.). From a synchronic angle, the project aims at achieving a thorough description of the syntactic and semantic behavior of these verbs. It is known that the verb pair members in each language do not always freely alternate in all contexts. The aim is to investigate the intra- and cross-linguistic behavior of the put verbs in their placement use, in order to achieve a thorough understanding of the spatial relations they denote, both physical and figurative (e.g. meter energia no trabalho ‘to put energy in the work’). 

Furthermore, apart from the placement meaning, these highly polysemous verbs also extend towards more grammaticalized uses: they can appear as a transfer verb, an inchoative auxiliary verb, a causative verb and even a pseudo-copulative verb. In these semantic extensions, however, the verbs are far from homogeneous either and they appear to behave differently in the three concerned Romance languages. This project aims at revealing to what extent the studied verbs of putting can be considered as near-synonyms both intra-linguistically and cross-linguistically, and where exactly differences in use can be observed, both within and beyond the placement domain.

Next to that, the synchronic study will be completed by a diachronic part. The project aspires to map out the grammaticalization paths of each verb, and to describe the semantic evolution of the verbs, starting from the 13th century up to now. It wants to examine whether a hierarchy of grammaticalization can be observed, for each verb and for each concerned Romance language.




Phd Student(s)