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An Optative-Comparative Construction Expressing Emphatic Assertion in Classical Spanish

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This paper offers a pragmatic analysis of a rarely used construction in Classical Spanish: an emphatic comparison of equality with optative illocution A comparative sentence such as Así me ayude Dios como fue buena mi intención (’May God help me just as my intention was good‘) is used for emphasizing the assertion fue buena mi intención (’my intention was good‘) This construction is probably a Latinism It occurs in Latin, especially in Plautus and Terence, and is mostly attested in Spanish in humanistic comedy and in the Celestinesque tradition of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries The first member of the construction is interpreted at the pragmatic level as a reinforcer of the illocutionary force of the comparative construction as a whole, which expresses an indirect assertive speech act Speakers perform this type of act by satisfying its sincerity condition: they believe that the event of the second member is true, because if it were not, they would run a risk, i.e. the optative would entail a curse for themselves By contrast, when the event is true, the optative entails a good wish for themselves This paper also analyzes how the pragmatic properties of the construction are reflected in its semantic and morphosyntactic properties
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2020

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  • Romanische Forschungen is one of the oldest German academic journals dedicated to the study of the Romance languages, their literatures, and cultures from all periods. Its editors and editorial board emphasize the interrelatedness of linguistics and literary studies and encourage the submission of articles and reviews with a focus on the Romance world as a whole. Romanische Forschungen publishes in all the major Romance languages, German and English.

    Die Romanischen Forschungen sind eine der ältesten deutschen Fachzeitschriften. Ihr Gegenstand sind die romanischen Sprachen, Literaturen und Kulturen von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart. Herausgeber und Beirat pflegen die Verbindung von Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft und bevorzugen Beiträge und Rezensionen mit einer gesamtromanischen Fragestellung. Die Publikationssprachen sind außer allen romanischen Sprachen das Deutsche und Englische.
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