'Have' and the link between perfects and existentials in Old Catalan

  • Toni Bassaganyas-Bars


This papers focuses on an aspect of the auxiliary alternation in the perfect in Old Catalan that sets this language apart from other members of the Romance family. In Old Catalan, most of the first occurrences of unaccusative verbs with haver ('have') instead of ésser ('be') show a series of peculiarities: they present a locative (or dative) PP, a definiteness effect, they are only found in third person, and they show a number mismatch between the verb and the theme-NP of the construction. Overall, they resemble existential constructions, which crucially use haver in the language; existential constructions, in turn, look like possessive constructions, which take haver as well. These data show that a standard semantics for have, coupled with the possibility of quirky subjects and unaccusative participles acting as secondary predicates, not only explain the occurrences of haver with unaccusatives in Old Catalan, but also leads to a straightforward account of why haver is the existential predicate in Modern Catalan.
How to Cite
Bassaganyas-Bars, T. (1). ’Have’ and the link between perfects and existentials in Old Catalan. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 19, 107-124. Retrieved from https://ojs.ub.uni-konstanz.de/sub/index.php/sub/article/view/224