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MEXICAN CLITIC USE: LEÍSMO vs. CREATIVITY 1 Mexican clitic use: leísmo vs. creativity Kitz Cleary University of Minnesota Done for and under the guidance of:

Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use

Nov 19, 2014



MA thesis on 3rd person usage in contemporary Mexican Spanish
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Page 1: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


Mexican clitic use: leísmo vs. creativity

Kitz Cleary

University of Minnesota

Done for and under the guidance of:

Professor Carol A. Klee

in partial satisfaction of the requirements for

MA, Hispanic Linguistics

Page 2: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


Mexican clitic use: leísmo vs. creativity

The use of direct object (DO) and indirect object (IO) pronouns in Spanish continues to

confound students and, judging by the number of studies generated in scholarly articles, it confounds

academicians as well. (i.e., DeMello, 2002; Fernández Ramírez, 1987; Kany, 1951; Lapesa, 1976;

Prado, 1977) In a student world ruled by texts and Spanish grammars, the matter is relatively simple,

“In most of Spain, but not in most of Latin America, le(s) is used instead of lo(s) for male human

beings.” (Dozier & Zulma, 1999: 60) College textbooks smugly dispatch the matter in one page,

possibly two, where the forms are noted along with an example or two of each form, the possible

enclitic forms, and occasionally observe that le is widely used in Spain as the DO for human males in

the singular, but the rest of the Spanish-speaking world uses lo as the DO and le as the IO. (Jarvis,

2005; Terrell, 2006; Zayas-Bazán, 2002)

An advanced adult student of Spanish, a former middle-school teacher who suffers no shame,

shared her frustration at what she called “all those little words,” the object pronouns. “What do they

refer to? And how do I figure that out?” In the face of her question and my own confusing experience

with the form while studying in Spain and living in both Mexico and Ecuador, it appears that clitic

confusion is widespread, not only among L2 Spanish students but also among L1 speakers.

The collision of le with lo so lightly dismissed by Spanish and grammars as the leísmo that

occurs commonly in parts of Spain, continues to confound. First, students are told that le occurs as the

third person IO pronoun; learners sort through the grammar of what the rule means and later realize

that the rule is violated in its practice by native speakers not only in Spain but also in Ecuador (García

& Otheguy, 1983), Peru (Klee & Caravedo, 2005), and even in Mexico (Cantero Sandoval, 1977).

Leísmo is most frequently defined as the use of the Dative le to refer to human males where

grammatically the Accusative lo would have been the accepted form, such as in "A Juan le vi ayer."

Such usage was considered nonstandard by the Real Academia Española from the beginning of the19th

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century. However, the Academy currently accepts, without preferring, leísmo of the singular,

masculine personal object given the abundant evidence that leísmo had been in broad usage not only by

popular but also by educated, that is to say "model" speakers for hundreds of years. (Fernández

Ordóñez,1999:4 n.8) When a commonly-used feature of language has a history of such disputed usage,

can it be any wonder that learners are befuddled? And because the use and acceptance of leísmo varies

by region, even within the same country, it is an especially complex phenomenon to understanding.

Due to my interest in the complexities of the clitic pronoun system, both as a learner and a

teacher of Spanish, I have chosen to examine leísmo in one context, that of the norma culta of Mexico

City, to determine whether it occurs and, if so, in what contexts. Owever, before describing the results

of my analysis, it is necessary to review what is known about this phenomenon throughout the Spanish-

speaking world and then examine studies conducted on Mexican Spanish.

Review of the literature

Latin American Spanish has been explained as having evolved from Andalusian Spanish, carried

by colonizers to their settlements in the New World. In his book on Latin American Spanish, Lipski

(1994) explains this view as arising from a setting where Seville merchants dominated trade with the

Americas, ships' crews were recruited from the surrounding area and left either directly from Seville or

from other Andalusian ports, and it was common for emigrants to the New World to pass up to a year in

Seville or Cádiz and yet another month or two at sea all under the influence of Andalusian crews.

Although the theories of Andalusian Spanish having been transplanted to the West have been

disputed, (Lipski: 37-38) many characteristics of Latin American Spanish can be traced to Andalusia.

In support of their position, Andalucista theorists point to the demographic dominance of Andalusians,

to the use of ustedes in place of vosotros, and to the nautical lexicon common in Latin American

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Spanish.1 In addition, certain phonetic traits exhibit a supposed Andalusian influence.2

A different theory to explain the similarity between Andalusian phonetic traits and those found in

the coastal regions of Latin America is proposed by Fontanella de Weinberg(1992) who observes that

speakers from different regions of Spain came into contact in the New World and produced a koiné, a

new variety of Spanish. When several variants are in competition, simpler variants – in this case

Andalusian variants – tend to dominate for reasons she details below. She also points out how the

continuing relationship between regions of the Americas and Andalusia, particularly Seville, reinforced

the Andalusian variants favored in the creation of the koiné.

In American koinization it is easy to explain the triumph of the simplifying features of

Andalusian Spanish if we take into account, on one hand, the demographic and social

weight of the speakers who originated there, on the other hand that in a process of

koinization, that is, conformation of a new variety from the different varieties in contact,

the advance of the simplification processes became more feasible than the opposite, that

is, it was easier for speakers who had certain traits in competition to lose them than for

those without them to acquire them, which would have forced a new processing for each


With regard to leísmo, Andalusian Spanish is said to more nearly approximate the mother tongue,

Latin, than the leísmo seen in the Castilian variety. In the Middle Ages, third person atonic pronouns

generally corresponded to their etymological roots in Latin, where the Dative was expressed as le or

1 botar(throw out), amarrar (tie up), abarrotes(provisions) , atracar(physically assault) , balde (bucket), chicote (whip) , desguazar(dismantle) , timón (steering wheel)...etc. Lipski, p. 37.

2 Among them are yeísmo and seseo, as well as the marked reduction of certain syllable-final consonants (/s/, /r/, /d/), and the velarization of word-final /n/. Lipski, p. 46

3 “En la koinización americana resulta muy fácilmente explicable el triunfo de los rasgos simplificadores del andaluz, si tenemos en cuenta, por una parte, el peso demográfico y social de los hablantes de ese origen y, por otra parte, que en un proceso de koinización, es decir, de conformación de una nueva variedad a partir de las diferentes en contacto, resultaba mucho más factible el avance de procesos simplificadores que lo contrario; es decir, era más fácil para los hablantes que poseían determinadas oposiciones perderlas que para quienes no las tenían adquirirlas, lo que les hubiera obligado a un nuevo procesamiento de cada palabra.” Fontanella de Weinberg, p. 47 Author's translation.

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les, without reference to gender, and the Accusative for singular masculine entities was lo and for

singular feminine entities la. (Lapesa 1981,1991) Such etymological distinctions are referred to as case

distinction of third person atonic pronouns. This system did not distinguish gender in the Dative as lo,

the Accusative, did not distinguish between the masculine and the neuter. Lapesa notes that at the

outset, leísmo appears to accompany certain verbs which in Latin were intransitive and took the Dative


The origins of leísmo possibly precede the beginning of the 15th century, but by at least by the

15th century le appears as an Accusative.(Lapesa, 1976) Some scholars consistently interpret the

apocopeted -l' as le, and in writing about the origins and evolution of Spanish atonic third person

pronouns, Lapesa does not discount that possibility. The Spanish of the Americas, in agreement with

that of Andalusia and in contrast to the Castilian Spanish of central Spain, uses the case system with le,

lo/la, although there are examples of the Accusative masculine le, Lapesa concedes.

Paraguay and Mexico represent two extreme cases of “standardized” Spanish in the Americas,

with considerable variation spread across other parts of Spanish-speaking America. Fontanella de

Weinberg (1992)observes that Mexico was exceptional due to its rapid urbanization and the high level

of social and cultural development that took place in a few years.5 The permanent presence of

members of the Court, peninsular justice and ecclesiastical government, provided the conditions that

lead to a standardization of language. Indeed, there were testimonials that extolled the quality of

Mexican Spanish at that time. For this reason, Mexican Spanish does not demonstrate significant

“syntactic peculiarities” except for certain regions where indigenous languages influence the speech of

Spanish-recessive bilinguals.

Fernández-Ordóñez(1999 ) observes that while the strict definition of leísmo is the use of le in

4 Ibid, p. 406 n. 80. These Spanish equivalents for these verbs include: servir, (a)menazar, obedecer, and others. Early on, these verbs have been regarded as transitive but require le only when alternating with lo/la.

5 Fontanella de Weinberg, p 49

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the place of lo/la as the DO, academicians have distinguished several varieties of leísmo and different

rates of occurrence among them. The most commonly recognized form is the use of le for masculine

persons in the singular.6 It is said that this flavor of leísmo originates in the Castilian tendency to use

demonstratives as the paradigm for atonic pronouns so that este-a-o, estos-as becomes the model for

le-la-lo, los-las, and thereby losing gender in favor of case. It is in this way that the Dative/ Accusative

opposition is neutered in third-person pronouns as had already transpired in first and second persons in

referring to antecedents of both DO and IO.7

This distinction, or lack thereof, can explain classic leísmo, according to Fernández-Ordóñez.

However, the explanation of leísmo by analogy leaves unexplained other occurrences, such as the

greater frequency of leísmo with animate DOs than with inanimate DOs. The chief objection to this

theory is its inability to predict leísmo in different linguistic communities.(Fernández-Ordóñez, 1999:4)

Theorists fail to take into account the possibility of different dialects of Spanish where speakers use

atonic pronouns in non-conventional ways.

In regions that still observe case distinction, leísmo is the only area of pronoun “confusion.”

True leísmo – the loss of case in pronoun distinction is rare in these areas because the choice of le in

many events is determined by the structure and meaning of the communication, according to

Fernández-Ordóñez. This is “leísmo aparente” and not true leísmo.(Fernández-Ordóñez, 1999:5-6)

Another variety of false leísmo is that which occurs with certain verbs and in certain constructions

resulting from the struggle between the archaic and the innovative, she maintains. Nor does Fernández-

Ordóñez grant that innovative uses are evidence of real leísmo since they are not an extension of the

Dative to Accusative contexts but exactly the opposite, that of rendering transitive those verbs that

originally were intransitive and required the Dative pronoun.

6 Fernández-Ordóñez's example of le for masculine persons, singular is: ¿Conoces a Juan? Sí, le conozco hace tiempo. (1999:2)

7 me, te, nos, os refer to both DOs and IOs.

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Prado (1977) deliniates the differences in the clitic systems of three major regions of the

Spanish-speaking world: colloquial Castilian Spanish, formal Peninsular Spanish, and the Spanish of

Latin America. Of the variety spoken in Andalusia and Latin America, not including the numerous sub

dialects, third-person clitic use has a range of syntactic possibilities, including case, number (person),

and gender but not [+/- HUMAN].8 The neuter, lo, is syntactically identical in all dialects.

Both Andalusian Peninsular Spanish and Latin American Spanish contrast the Dative with the

Accusative (IO and DO), but case is not distinguished in colloquial Castilian Spanish thus the only

clitic contrasts remaining are number and gender. Prado illustrates the three varieties as: CC

(Colloquial Castilian), EPF (Español Peninsular Formal), and EHA (Español de Hispanoamérica).:

1. CC: Veo a María. La veo.

2. CC: Escribo a María. La escribo.

3. EPF and EHA: Veo a María. La veo.

4. EPF and EHA: Escribo a María. Le escribo.

He maintains that the clitic system in Latin American Spanish is simpler than that of Peninsular

Formal because there is no [+/- HUMAN]element in the former:

a. EPF: Veo al chico. Le veo.

a. EPF: Veo el libro. Lo veo.

b. CC: Veo al chico. Le veo.

b. CC: Veo el libro. Le veo.

c. EHA: Veo al chico. Lo veo.

c. EHA: Veo al libro. Lo veo. (Prado, 1977:959)

The disappearance of the case distinction from colloquial Castilian Spanish is a critical

difference between it and the variety spoken in both Formal Peninsular Spanish and American Spanish;

8 Formal Peninsular Spanish marks [+HUMAN] and [-FEMALE] with le.

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the latter two dialects preserve the etymological contrast between the Dative and the Accusative of the

third person. However, Formal Peninsular Spanish distinguishes the third person, choosing le as the

defining clitic for [+HUMAN], [-FEMALE]. Prado refuses to rank one dialect over another as far as

recommending a variety for pedagogical purposes. However, he concludes that, due to general

acceptance, both EPF and EHA are acceptable.

In a grammatical discussion of leísmo, Fernández Ramírez (1987) defines the canonical use of

the object pronouns lo(s)/la(s) le(s)9 as the Accusative third person singular masculine and neuter form

being etymologically lo while the Dative is le. Authors from Andalusia generally prefer the

etymological usage of le, Fernández Ramírez writes, while those from Valladolid exploit le to the

maximum. This exploitation of leísmo, the non-etymological use of le, is regarded as widespread in

Spain, reaching into Andalusia and Extremadura. Where and how extensively the feature is seen in

Latin America is under debate.

The Fernández Ramírez survey of leísmo observes that linguists note its existence reaching

back to the very origins of the language, including “absolute leísmo” in literature from the early 20th

century where some authors never use lo. Dating from at least the 16th century, the third person

Accusative used lo in referring to a thing [- HUMAN], whereas le is considered Dative. However,

leísmo can also be extended to [-HUMAN] as in this second example:

(le conocí en la mili) leísmo of person.

(le compramos de rebaja) leísmo of things. (Klein-Andreu, 2000:8)

Klein-Andreu (2000) proposes that as morphological elements, le/s, la/s and lo/s are presumed

to have a functional significance for speakers which is determined by their use. (p. 3) It has been

traditionally observed that the uses of these clitics, which appear to be innovations when taking their

inherited Latin use into perspective, allow the loss of case over but not of gender.10 Klein-Andreu 9 From this point on, any reference to lo will include both gender and number, and references to le include the plural.10 Case: “A distinctive, overtly marked form which can be assumed by an NP to indicate that the NP bears some

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asserts that differing uses of le/lo are the outcome of differing functional systems, i.e. meanings. She

also argues that these differing uses are the product of progressive reinterpretations of the initial

system. In her review of of classical leísmo, Klein-Andreu (2000:9) lists the key elements of leísmo.

Her list observes that leísmo is the first innovation to appear; it is the most extensive and deeply rooted

of clitic use variations. The feature prefers masculine references that most frequently refer to persons.

Further, leísmo is found more commonly in the singular rather than in plural.

Lapesa (1981:405-406) observes that while the traditional Dative pronouns are non-specific as

to gender, the Accusative pronouns do reflect gender. The pronoun la/s identifies the referent as

feminine but lo/s serves to label both masculine gender and neuter, i.e. ideas or concepts that are not

lexicalized. Thus lo distinguishes case but not gender, a situation that resembles that of le. However,

the dubious gender distinction of lo appears to have led to the frequent use of le to distinguish the

Accusative [+HUMAN] seen commonly among writers in the first half of the 16th century.

Nevertheless, Lapesa hastens to add, the plural form les as [+HUMAN] does not seem to have taken

root. Despite the confusion in Castilian Spanish, American Spanish generally conforms to the

Andalusian model of using the clitics’ etymological form. (p. 587)

Fernández Ramírez (1987) agrees with the Lapesa analysis of gender, but also notes that le

shows a preference for replacing the masculine lo, but never the neuter lo. The use of the Accusative le

with persons but not things is “favored precisely due to the fact that pronominal datives consist chiefly

of mentions of persons.” (p. 43)11

Klein-Andreu (2000), on the other hand, observes that linguistic gender has a deictic function

that aids in identifying the referent. She observes that the Valladolid use of lo (the neuter) is not just to

identifiable grammatical or semantic relation to the rest of the sentence. In English, overt case marking is confined to a few pronouns (I/me; they/them), but some other languages (such as) … Latin, exhibit elaborate case systems typically involving about three to six distinct forms….” These cases are most commonly Nominative, Genitive, Accusative, etc. A Dictionary of Grammatical Terms in Linguistics, R.L. Trask. p.35. Routledge, New York, NY, 1993.

11 My translation.

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avoid precision in identifying the referent but also to refer to entities that are diffuse or continuous --

less precise -- without differentiating gender or number. Thus lo is non-gendered, indicating a

continuous referent not a masculine antecedent.(p. 74) Case and gender differ in that case uses the role

of the referent, which is flexible, in the situation indicated by the verb to assign the referent's

characteristics while gender uses lexical characteristics, a permanent designation. The neuter, she says,

falls between the two extremes. It pronomializes ideas that are not lexicalized and, perhaps, cannot be

lexicalized (as in lo dicen pero no lo creo) or where there is no interest in specificity (tráeme eso).

In García's (1975) careful analysis of native-speaker clitic use, she goes well beyond a

grammatical analysis of etymological use or innovative use, which is to say le for the Dative and lo/la

for the Accusative pronoun. The bottom line in her thorough and thoughtful book, The Role of Theory

in Linguistic Analysis. The Spanish Pronoun System, is that personal interpretation of specific events

generally overpowers broad-stroke grammatical regulations and speakers employ the character of the

two clitics to communicate intended meaning. In speech events, she points out, a number of elements

are at play, including:

the number of participants

the +/- animacy of the elements involved (both subject and the object)

level of activity of the objects

the status of [+ANIMATE] – greater/lesser prestige

the sex of animate entities where [+/- FEMALE] comes to bear

humanity of the elements [+/- HUMAN]

the role of the object as: receiver, beneficiary, loser, inalienable possessor

verb characteristic: perception, strength of activity, emotionality

phonological influence

the state of the event – static vs. active / strong vs. weak

Page 11: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


personal reaction of the speaker

She argues that no verb exists in Spanish that must occur with either le or lo, one that cannot be

used without one or the other pronoun. The creativity of speakers and the impulse toward economy

suggests that "even the strongest" transitive verb can be used intransitively. "The speaker can comment

not only as to how he views the event..., but also on the number of participants: whether one, two, three

or more are involved." (p. 347) The speaker's editorial comment can be expressed by the choice of le

or lo. These choices may well be culturally determined and accepted by a speech community. She

argues with that with respect to the presence of leísmo in a particular speech community, the use of le

for all singular human male objects,

... could be understood as an increasing favoring of one rationale for the use of le

(animate males are closer to focus than females or things) to the exclusion of all other. It

might well be, then that Spanish dialects differ chiefly not in their systems -- the le/lo

opposition, with the meanings postulated here, might be common to them all -- but in the

extent to which the various rationales for its exploitation (animacy / person / maleness of

subject; animacy / maleness of object / actual activeness of object; intensity of event ;

politeness; etc.) are actually operative. In other words, we might have a common tool

(the grammatical system) that is handled (exploited) according to different

communicative strategies. (p. 351)

Not long after García produced her analysis of the Spanish pronoun system, she and Ricardo

Otheguy produced an article on the variation of leísmo in Spanish dialects. (Garcia & Otheguy, 1977)

The two approach leísmo from a semantic position, separating themselves from the traditional (Kany,

1945) analysis of leísmo, regarding it as a variation from what would be considered syntactic

acceptability, that is, le is the Dative IO and lo the Accusative DO. The best a traditional analysis can

do, they observe, is only to measure the misfit between actual usage and academic predictions. The

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widespread misfit between such predictions and real world evidence only gives evidence that the

syntactic analysis is wrong. García and Otheguy (1977) posit an alternative hypothesis wherein

language, first, serves as a device to communicate meaning and, second, is a manifestation of distinctly

human behavior. While le indicates the "less-active participant" in any situation, (the subject of the

verb is the most-active) lo is the "least-active participant." Thus, le is sandwiched between the most-

and least-active. In sum, the most-active participant is the subject of the verb, the less-active

participant is le, and the least-active participant is lo/la.

Here the Form-Content analysis differs profoundly from the traditional one: whereas

Dative and Accusative are morphological labels motivated by syntactic functions, we see

in le and lo the signals of meanings, the terms of a semantic opposition whose substance

is the relative degree of activeness of an object in an event named by the verb. (p. 67)

They note parenthetically that while lo and la have gender, le is neutral, a characteristic that

proved useful in their study of leísmo. Three-participant situations present no problem in the study of

leísmo by virtue of forcing a choice when one object has already been designated le, the remaining

object is assigned lo as in their example: "Yo le hice comerla." However, in two-participant situations

the difference between le and lo is cast into high relief. "In every two-participant situation, then, the

language presents the speaker with a choice that he does not have to make in three-participant

situations." (p. 69) Thus it is, they contend, that leísmo is to be expected in scenarios of two

participants. It is here where the le element can be colored as "less-active" while the lo participant

becomes the "least-active" as a matter of the speaker's choice. The authors' following two illustrations

demonstrate the point in making the choice using the Form-Content approach.

María le llora. (Mary complains to him.) vs.

María lo llora. (Mary mourns him.) (p. 70)

The properties of the subject and those of the object determine the choice, they say. They

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contend that a weaker subject renders the object more subject-like triggering le, while a weaker object

distances the object from its subject, thus evoking a lo. It is the speaker's judgment that determines the

relative distance of the subject from the object in two-participant situations. The authors contend that it

is the potency of the subject that evokes the choice of object pronoun. Thus, it is the speaker's intended

message that determines the choice, they say. What appears to be free variation actually springs from

differences in meaning and the message speakers mean to convey and do so with regularity.

García and Otheguy (1977) posit three possible explanations for dialectal differences in the use

of pronouns.

1. Spanish dialects may have different interpretations for the meanings of le versus lo.

2. While the meanings may be the same, different dialects may exploit the use of le and lo

in distinct ways.

3. If both the meanings and the strategies are the same, the relative strength of the

strategies may differ according to dialect.

As for the first option, they found that , when gender was unspecified, respondents produced le.

With respect to number 2, the perception of males as more active, stronger, and of higher status led to

the choice of le for male objects more frequently than for female objects. In number 3, they found that

an inanimate subject (weak) would condition the use of a le object and an animate subject (strong)

would tend to condition lo. (p. 76-77) In all dialects, they found, the sex of the object carries greater

weight in the choice of le than the animacy of the subject. They concluded that although dialects use

the same strategies in the exploitation of le or lo, the rank of the strategies may differ according to

dialect. "(T)he meanings of the forms are the same for all dialects and, therefore, that the difference in

the use of le and lo/la between dialects must be due to something else." (p. 83) Influences affecting

dialect differences are: some dialects simply use le more than others, dialects differ in the strength of

their strategies, and strategies are ranked differently in different dialects.

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The authors consider the success of their task lay not in counting occurrences of le or lo and

assessing their syntactic function, but by inquiring how that variation is used to send messages. They

have determined, they say, to have "established what relation in fact holds among different

strategies...." (p. 84)

Studies of leísmo in Mexican Spanish

Cantero Sandoval(1979) disputes the widely accepted observation made by Lope Blanch

(1953: 17) that Mexican Spanish is conservative, that is that it adheres to the etymological use of lo as

the personal Accusative and relegating the Accusative le to Dative pronouns. In his review of the

Spanish spoken in Mexico´s capital city, Cantero Sandoval claims to have found 44 cases of what he

considers to be leísmo in Mexican Spanish despite the overwhelming use of lo/la as the Accusative

pronoun. He regards the use of se le as an example of leísmo. His argument is that Mexican syntactic

behavior distinguishes in this way the impersonal situation with se le by using the IO. (Normally se is

combined with the DO clitic, as with “se lo dije” and “se la di.”) (p. 307) His second point is that

Mexican leísmo occurs with certain verbs. Cantero Sandoval contends that le appears frequently as the

DO with the verbs of ayudar, corresponder and entender. He argues that the co-occurrence of le with

these verbs -- and not others -- is totally by chance and that such happenstance indicates a still broader

trend toward leísmo as seen from his sample here.

“Me pidió que le ayudara”;

“de manera que trátalo y, si te simpatiza, puedes corresponderle”;

“ay, pues yo no les entendí.” (p. 307)

In a footnote, Cantero Sandoval notes that although Mexican Spanish observes a clean

distinction between pegar + lo (“adherir”) and pegar + le (“golpear”), no one would say by way of

preference: “voy a ayudarlo, corresponderlo, entenderlo”. He grants that a distinction exists between

“entender + personal object” and “entender + non-personal object or a thing.” Le is preferred in the

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first case, as with “a mis hijos no les entiendo nunca”, and lo is preferred in the second, as with “(ese

problema, no lo entiendo”). He also grants that the possibility exists of colloquial usage where the

preposition a appears before the object thus provoking the use of le, as with: “no le entiendo a su

clase”; “no le entiendo al problema”; “no le entiendo a lo que me dice.” In the educated speech of

Mexico City, he observes that some verbs do not distinguish between le or lo as the DO – “le rodea” or

“lo rodea”. This, he says, is an example of “incomplete leísmo” and he enumerates the verbs llamar,

rodear, igualar, estorbar, and the periphrastic hacer comprender as those existing in such a limbo.(p.

307) Still another group of verbs co-occur with leísmo only occasionally and in his schema they

include saludar, poner a hacer, penetrar, compadecer, quemar and seguir. He includes mention of his

personal observations of le occurrences beyond the confines of the study materials; he enumerates them

as ver, esperar, felicitar y mantener. These verbs, together with the saludar... series mentioned above,

when used with le exhibit traces of overly-careful, formal speech. He maintains that the Castilian

Spanish norm colors such usage. Beyond Castilian Spanish, Cantero Sandoval points to the influence

of commercial speech used in advertising (“le esperamos”) and that of radio announcers as fostering

leísta usage. (“le felicitamos” and “eso le van a mantener alejado del tenis hasta octubre”. (p. 308)

DeMello (2002) is sharply critical of Cantero Sandoval's assessment of nascent leísmo in

Mexican Spanish, preferring the assessments of Lope Blanch (1983) and Moreno de Alba(1999) who

agree on the conservative nature of Mexican Spanish. Comparing ayudarlo with ayudarle, DeMello

found neither preferred in his analysis of popular Mexican speech. But le is preferred with entender,

according to his data. Interestingly, comprender, which he identifies as a synonym of entender, pairs

exclusively with lo; DeMello explains the difference as one of semantics where lo is used when the

verb suggests "the basic nature of a person" rather than "to understand what is being said." (p. 267)

Problematically, his data contain very few respondents.12 This is not a case of leísmo, DeMello asserts, 12 Two of the examples he uses to demonstrate his point are from the same speaker in the same context, and the individual

shows a preference for the DOP with both entender and comprender, thus I doubt that his point is established because it

Page 16: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


since technically leísmo involves the use of le the IO pronoun in place of the DO pronoun and in this

case the choice of clitic is a semantic distinction.13 He expands on the semantic distinction in the use of

le with ayudar. "Ayudarle a uno" means to actively give help to someone, while ayudarlo means to do

something helpful14, with the notion of being less active in the event, as argued by García (1975).

DeMello also dismisses Cantero Sandoval's assessment of "intermediate leísmo," arguing that

the verbs used alternately with le or lo are cases where le is not the DO.15 DeMello explains that the

alternation occurs with llamar, for instance, because it signifies either "to give a name to something"

(Llámale como quieras) where it is synonymous to poner and takes the IO, or it means “to call

something by its name” which takes the DO (p. 269).16 DeMello likewise discounts Cantero Sandoval's

other examples of moderate leísmo, judging the examples as semantically inadequate to the task of

requiring the DO pronoun or that the verb either requires le or is generally constructed with le, or that

other researchers found the verb, comprender in this case, commonly used with either. Such verbs do

not, he concludes, disprove the conservative nature of Mexican Spanish, however, DeMello grants that

had Cantero Sandoval produced examples of verbs that indisputably take the DO, his argument for

Mexican leísmo might have been more persuasive.

DeMello also attacks the 17 cases of the impersonal se le that Cantero Sandoval uses in his

argument for Mexican leísmo, noting that the se le construction is common throughout Latin America

including cases of se le with the verb conocer, which he argues always takes a DO. DeMello argues,

among other things, that linguists generally are not in agreement on the syntactical function of le in the

may be the speaker's preferred usage. My sample does not include these transcripts.13 DeMello appeals to Fernández-Ordóñez (1999) reference to this phenomenon as leísmo aparente (seeming leísmo)

because, instead of having lost the distinction between DOP and IOP, it is really a choice that is determined by meaning.14 Fernández-Ordóñez (1999:1330) says that with certain verbs, among them ayudar, the Accusative is preferred, especially in the south of the Americas. We do not see that here.15 Cantero Sandoval's verb samples are: llamar, rodear, igualar, estorbar, irritar, hacer comprender.16 Garcia (1975) "When an entity is named, are we "naming" it, i.e., referring to it by its name (traditional analysis: the name is an objective complement) or are we "giving"it a name (traditional analysis: the thing named is the IO) and the name is the DO? Depending on the view we take of the matter, we may refer to the "named" entity by means of an Accusative or a Dative." p. 293-294

Page 17: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


se le construction. For some le is accusative and for others it is dative. "A vacillation of this type also

argues against considering this le to be a case of leísmo, since in leísmo, le is clearly a DO pronoun.”

(DeMello, 2002:272)

Torres Cacoullos (2002) maintains that le has assumed a new role in contemporary Mexican

Spanish. What had been the IO Accusative pronoun now flourishes in hitherto unexpected ways. Its

new, bleached status allows le to be cast in the role of intensifier in such common Mexican exhortations

as ¡ándale! She explains the process as a bleaching that transpired in stages, beginning as the

Accusative pronoun in what she concludes was the leísmo of early Mexican Spanish. First, following

that period, the argument status of le weakens with the decline of leísmo and le's increased occurrence

beyond the range of verbal influence, as she shows in examples from her paper:

(Documentos Lingüísticos de la Nueva España (DLNE) 290, 129:13)

se le murió el borrico ('the donkey le died') (The le of the incident refers to the person

affected by the event due to his relationship to the donkey.) (p. 303)

le cierro para que no lo molesten (participant is not part of the action but is affected)

"close for you" (p. 304)

Second, the pronoun status of le weakens due to the confluence of three factors. One of which is the

loss of a human referent as with her examples from (Habla popular de la Ciudad de México, UNAM,


Toda la ropa que traje, luego luego mi hermana, la mayor, dice: "!No! !Quema todo

eso!" le echó petróleo, y la quemó toda.

(...says: "No! Burn all that up!" She threw gas on it, and burnt it all.) (p. 305)

The second of which is dative duplication, where a "redundant" dative pronoun appears with its NP

referent, becomes the norm. (UNAM 1976:112)

él le dijo a su secretario (he le told his secretary) (p.306)

Page 18: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


And third, with increasing use of the redundant le, number accord is lost. (UNAM 1976:89)

qué le pone a los tacos (what do you le put on the tacos) (p. 307)

The outcome of these trends is the “intensifier le” common to Mexican Spanish.

What appears to have happened... is not an expansion of le to more predicates, but

rather a change in the uses of le with the same predicates: new meanings in old contexts.

Once leismo was gone as a productive pattern for le, le constructions with some of the

same verbs took on a different meaning.(p. 311)

Thus, when le was no longer used as a DO pronoun (leísmo), it took on functions as an

intensifier, originating with ándale, and expanding into other intransitive verbs of motion (córrele) and

beyond to other intransitive and transitive verbs such as cerrar.

Despite the fact that Mexico is home to more Spanish speakers than any other country on the

globe17 and that the Mexico serves as an immersion laboratory for thousands of American and

European L2 Spanish speakers, relatively little is known about the Mexican character of a frequently-

examined feature of the Spanish language, the behavior of third-person clitics. (Fernández-Ordóñez,

1994) In the work that has been done on Mexican Spanish, we have seen differing points of view.

First, it has been noted above that the Mexican variety is overwhelmingly conservative in that it

inherits a clitic system from Latin that adheres to case. (Lope Blanch, 1983; Moreno de Alba, 1999)

There are those who depart from that view and have attempted to show that Mexican Spanish is

undergoing a shift toward leísmo. (Cantero Sandoval, 1979) But that attempt has been undercut by the

syntactic and semantic analysis of linguist DeMello (2002) who argues for non-leísmo motivations

underlying the use of what appears to be the Accusative le. He joins earlier arguments by Garcia who

explains what appears to be leísmo as semantic exploitation by skillful communicators. (Garcia, 1975;

García and Otheguy,1977) On the other side of the Mexican leísmo dispute, Torres Cacoullos (2002)

17 accessed 12-10-2009

Page 19: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


argues that a bleached form of historic leísmo has paved the way for le to perform in multiple

capacities and that, indeed, the status of le has been considerably weakened in Mexican Spanish. We

come to the task seeking to discover what the situation is, whether the choice of case varies with certain

verbs and – if so – whether that variation indicates the presence of leísmo in the classic sense

(indiscriminate choice of the Dative le for the singular, masculine Accusative) or whether other

motivations are sufficient to dispell the notion of Mexican leísmo.


The question is, then, does the prestige variety of Mexican Spanish used by educated speakers

of the capital city contain leísmo? If so, is leísmo a rarity or a common feature? Should it occur, are

certain verbs more likely to provoke leísmo than others? Finally, how does the frequency of leísmo in

educated Mexico City Spanish compare with other varieties of Latin American Spanish?

Our data is drawn from EL HABLA DE LA CIUDAD DE MÉXICO: materiales para su

estudio,18 which is a portion of an extensive project that surveyed the educated speech gathered from

the principal cities of Latin America and Spain, including Buenos Aires, Santiago Chile, Lima, Caracas,

Bogota, Mexico, Havana, San Juan Puerto Rico, and Madrid. By the end of 1970, investigators from

the Centro de Lingüística Hispánica of UNAM had finished work on the Mexico City portion. Our data

is drawn from this source.

This paper reviews the evidence gathered in seven interviews in which a single informant

speaks with a single interviewer and includes both women and men of three generations distributed as

(a) from 25 to 35 years, 30%, (b) from 36 to 55 years, 45%, and (c) of more than 55 years, 25%, as

18 Lope Blanch, Juan M. (1971) EL HABLA DE LA CIUDAD DE MEXICO: Materiales para su estudio. UNAM, México. The speech recordings were of four types, including secret recordings of spontaneous speech, free conversation between two informants, a directed dialog between one or two informants and the investigator, and formal presentations. Only five of our subjects were published in this source, and the remaining two subjects were gathered from a CD made available through the Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Page 20: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


designed under the direction of Lope Blanch. Although the age ranges suggested for each category

may have been logical, the distribution of respondents grouped themselves naturally into generations of

(a) ages 24-25, 29%, (b) ages 38-62, 50%, and (c) ages 71-81, 21%. Had I adopted the standard

distribution, two individuals ages 55 and 62 would have been boosted into the older age group. While

not notably different from the recommended clustering, the two individuals of 55 and 62 would have

more in common with a working cohort (they are still actively engaged) in the age range of 38 to 49.

Leísmo is the catagorical use of the Dative le in place of the Accusative lo, in the masculine,

animate singular pronoun. (Fernández-Ordóñez,1993; Fernández Ramírez,1987; García, 1975; Kany,

1945; Klein-Andreu,1981; Lapesa, 1981) As such, we propose to analyze the use of le and lo in the

Mexico City Corpus in accord with the traditional definition of leísmo, leaving for future research the

considerations of le replacing la and of leísmo extending to plural clitics.

Early analyses of leísmo appealed to the case system in Latin to demonstrate deviation from the

“norm” when references to singlular masculine animates used the Dative le where the Latin case would

system have dictated the Accusative.

García argues, persuasively we think, that a semantic analysis of case use explains third-person

clitic variation in all situations, regardless of gender and number. She explains that syntactic structures

are mechanisms in service to meaning and that speakers exploit semantics to express meaning without

regard to the restrictions of syntax. Joining García in arguing for a broader view of third-person clitic

variation, is Fernández-Ordóñez (1999) whose chapter on leísmo in Gramática descriptiva de la lengua

española crystalizes the difference between real and apparent leísmo, variations of clitic use with verbs

of feeling and of mental attitude, clitic choice in infinitive clauses, verbs that omit their DO, verbs that

have been reinterpreted, and those verbs whose objects take a predicate complement. Keeping in mind

these scholars' arguments, we will first search the corpus age group in question for variations in le/lo

use and evidence of traditional leísmo. Should le replace lo in Accusative positions, we will further

Page 21: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


examine whether that appearance can be explained by appealing to Fernández-Ordóñez and García for

explanations as to why such behavior is not evidence of leísmo. Or whether, indeed, some other

explanation might be possible, including those posited by DeMello and Torres Cacoullos.

As stated above, García holds that the semantic functions of le cannot be fully explored in

conditions of three participants because the speaker is forced into a choice of le and lo thereby not

allowing for free expression of refined intent. In addition, since traditional leísmo does not embrace

Dative/Accusative variations with feminine pronouns and plurals, we will limit ourselves to masculine

and singular object pronouns. Further, the clitic expressions se le and se lo/la will not be analyzed since

they require a different analysis involving the use of the no-fault se, le replacement by se in presence of

lo, and the popular Mexican use of the se le construction for affected non-participants in the action of

the verb. Since gustar type verbs – where the subject is not the experiencer – standardly take le as the

object in the third person, I will exclude the most obvious – those that have fossilized into expressions .

As Butt and Benjamin(1994) point out in their grammar,19 le is preferred with such verbs, specifically:

gustar, agradar, complacer, placer, other grammars include caer bien /mal, encantar, faltar, hacer falta,

quedar, and sobrar among others.20 These verbs will not be considered in the analysis.

19 Verbs like gustar standardly take le for their DO pronoun agradar, complacer, placer, importar, interesar, tirar (to pull), tocar (to be the turn of), creer (human object), discutir(to answer back), enseñar (human object), entender (human object), llamar (many use le when “to give a name” is intended; lo usually when “to phone” or “call to”), obedecer(to obey, although also found with lo), pegar (to beat), preocupar, inquietar, recordar (to remind). Butt & Benjamin (1994) pp. 153-154. Other lists of verbs that behave like gustar include: disgustar, encantar, enojar, gustar, molestar, parecer, preocupar, sorprendar, doler, quedar, sobrar, faltar, fascinar. Valette, Jean-Paul; Rebecca M. Valette, Teresa Carrera-Hanley (1994) p. 209. Also caer bien, caer mal, hacer falta, impresionar. Zayas-Bazán, Eduardo, Susan M. Bacon, Dulce García (1999) p. 95.

20 Dozier, Eleanor; Zulma Iguina (1999) p. 237.

Page 22: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use



Verbs of communication

In her examination of historical Mexican documents, Torres Cacoullos notes that le most

frequently occurs with verbs of communication, especially with decir, preguntar, and responder. We

concur and find that contemporary Mexican Spanish continues the practice. The verbs of

communication in our corpus include decir, contar, hablar, indicar, llamar, platicar, preguntar,

recomendar, repetir, and señalar. All appear with le and of these, three of the 10 verbs also appear

minimally with lo. (decir, hablar, and platicar) In the case of platicar, the speaker engages in leísmo de

cortesía, which is, all agree, not a true form of leísmo because the Accusative use of le operates as a

sign of respect toward an interlocutor with whom one also uses usted. (DeMello,2002 ) All these verbs

of communication are ditransitive as well, including platicar which is commonly used in Mexican


ME-10: 200

Sí, ahorita le platico del aula.

Yes, now I'll tell you about the classroom.


The most common verb in the corpus is decir (25 tokens) a communication verb that co-occurs with le,

except for a single token.21 Decir is, as García (1975) explains , a verb of “saying” where the person

addressed is the IO and what is being said is the DO. Mexican educated Spanish clearly differentiates

between the two. The common pattern is this:

ME-9: 25

Ya se enojó Olivia conmigo porque ya le dije: "Mira, hija, si tú quieres casarte, tienes

21 Dar also appears commonly in the sample with le, and only once with lo. In this case, the same speaker uses both verbs – decir and dar with both lo and le.

Page 23: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


que recibirte primero."

Then Olivia got angry with me because I said to her, “Look, child, if you want get

married you have to receive your (degree) first.”

The speaker recounts her conversation to the interviewer, repeating what she said to the person being

addressed, her daughter. In the example that follows, the speaker's pronomialization refers to the


ME-06: 101

Estoy explicando, pero estoy tratando de ser objetivo, y lo dije desde antes.

I am explaining, but I am trying to be objective and I said it before.


Decir covers territory similar to llamar both appearing to vary between lo and le. In our corpus both

verbs overwelmingly prefers le. Cantero Sandoval refers to this verb as evidence of “intermediate

leísmo”. As García explains it, llamar resembles decir because the underlying notion is that of

addressing someone (le). However, llamar can also confer the notion of describing a person's name. In

that sense, García says that the entity named – as with someone's real name – would normally be

referred to as lo. There is semantic variation with verb llamar as when it conveys the message 'name' it

can take le, or when calling to someone, beckoning, it takes lo. García offers these examples:

Así le llamaron. 'That is what they called him', i.e., así describes his name.

Así lo llamaron. 'That is how they called him', i.e., así describes the manner of beckoning.

(García, 1975:294)

In this corpus, llamar occurs nine times with le but never with lo. One subject, a 49-year-old man, used

llamar three times, all of verbs carry the meaning of describing or giving a name.


...en el lenguaje moderno se llama criteriología, etcétera, ¿no? Tiene ya muchos nombres, pero

Page 24: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


ahí le llamaban lógica mayor.

... in modern language it is called criteriology, etcetera, isn't it? It already has many names, but

there they call it advanced logic.

In this sense, llamar operates as poner functions. García explains that the use of le with poner is

colored by usage. Where it – as well as llamar – is regarded as in “apparent 'free variation' with either

le or lo” (1975:293), the difference lies in “putting a name on him [le]” rather than “how they call him”.

García illustrates here: Le pusieron Luis ('They called him Louis' -- lit.: they put Louis on him [le])

(1975:293) Two other subjects used llamar in the same sense, for a total of five tokens with the same

meaning of putting a name on something.

ME-7: 174-176

... él no puede vivir en el resto del mundo puesto que los hombres lo persiguen y lo matan.

Entonces Dios, para evitarle eso, le puso una seña.

...he cannot live in the outside world since men pursue him and murder him. Then God, to save

him from this, placed a sign le on him. (put a name on him)

A second usage of llamar emerged as important, that of calling attention to something.

ME-6: 186

La persona que está platicando en clase, se está distrayendo, le llamo la atención en forma


The person who is chatting in class is distracted, I call le (to his) attention in a calm way... (I call

his attention...)

Here the psychiatrist tells of someone talking and distracting the class, and he quietly attracts

the attention of the speaker. So that there are three elements, one the subject (the psychiatrist), the

second the student, and the third la atención. The situation is one of an animate, personal object IO

boosted to le by the inanimate second object, the DO, as García describes.

Page 25: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use



Conoció algunas cosas dentro de la familia que él tenía de su padre; había diferentes cosas así,

que le llamaban la atención.

I discovered some things within the family that he had of his father; they were different things

so that they stood out. (attracted attention)

ME-11: 259

La obligación del alumno es iniciarse en estas cosas, y después ahondar dentro de aquel campo

que más... le haya llamado la atención, ¿verdad?

The obligation of the student is to begin with these things and later to go into greater detail in

that field that most... has attracted le him, true? (attracted his attention)

Fernández-Ordóñez agrees that there is variation in the treatment of llamar, but she takes a

historical perspective arguing that what in Latin required a double Accusative was reinterpreted as

transitive with a predicate complement and the primitive DO was reborn as an IO. By analogy with

decir, llamar takes the Dative. However, there is variation in the Spanish-speaking world and thus, she

argues, the two forms coexist, perhaps differing regionally. (Fernández Ordóñez,1999:1335) In broad

brush perspective, her view is that case differences are required by certain verbs and in certain

structures in distinguishing zones and probably at certain social levels. However, through the history of

Spanish, the Accusative has been leaking into the territory formerly Dative, replacing Dative in verbs

and constructions.(Fernández-Ordóñez, 1999:23) Neither evaluation suggests Mexican leísmo, even

the “sporadic leísmo” described by Cantero Sandoval.


With tokens of hablar evoking both le and lo, it appears that this verb also responds to

environment. In the following examples, a single speaker offers tokens of both the Dative and the

Page 26: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


Accusative with hablar. The first two tokens (#1 and #2) could be considered the “leísmo of respect,” but

it also appears that by analogy with decir the speaker intentionally chose the Dative. In example #3,

hablar takes the plural clitic introduced by “a las modernos”, evoking the Dative.

1. ME-5: 44 ( Hombre de 49 años. Profesor de Filosofía)

... yo le estoy hablando de hace veinte años: salí de la Universidad Gregoriana....

...I am speaking to you of 20 years ago; I left the Universidad Gregoriana...

2. ME-5: 153

Bueno, yo le estoy hablando en términos escolásticos

Well, I am speaking to you in scholastic terms...

3. ME-5: 253-254

Eso es todo; porque claro que si a los modernos les hablo en ese lenguaje

That is all because of course I speak to the moderns in that language.

4. ME-5: 139/140

...dentro de ese latín, hay... gentes que lo pueden hablar elegantemente.

...within that Latin there are... people who can speak lo it elegantly.

5. ME-5: 140-141

... pero el padre Dezza lo hablaba en una forma exquisita.

... but father Dezza spoke it in an exquisite way.

In item #4, the speaker's choice of the Accusative case becomes clear and is repeated in #5 when

speaking of a LEAST ACTIVE entity, an inanimate concept. (García, 1977:129-130; Klein-Andreu, 2000:



Contar, a ditransitive verb that, its communicative role is ALSO analogous to decir,

differentiating pronomialized objects by both degree of activity (LESS ACTIVE/ LEAST ACTIVE)

Page 27: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


and prominence. The notion of prominence is that of distinguishing participants from non-participants

where participation requires the presence of the individual. (Klein-Andreu, 2000: 118-120) While

prominence can be regarded as absolute, that is a binary concept, the speaker's mental image

determines the degree of activeness and thus the choice of clitic. "The choice of le over lo always

reflects a smaller distance between participant in and participant out of focus." (Garcia 1975:306)

Since lo is the default choice, the choice of le requires justification, among them are (a) inanimate

subject, (b) weak animate subject, (c) strong animate object, and (d) literal activity. All these elements

condition the choice of the stronger object pronoun, le. However, le is so heavily favored for persons

that some verbs dictate the use of le when the action affects (for/on) persons and lo for impact on

things, García argues. (1975: 318) She offers these examples to demonstrate the difference. Our

material demonstrates the same clitic treatment in the Spanish of educated Mexican speakers.

contarlo (el cuento) 'tell it (the story)'

contarle (a Juan) 'tell him (Juan)'

enseñarlo (el camino) 'show it (the road)'

enseñarle (a Juan) 'show, teach him (Juan)' (García, 1975: 318)

In the first of the following two examples from the corpus, le is the IO pronoun accompanying

a uno, and contar takes le as predicted by García since it is one of the class of verbs that standardly

take le when a person is the receiver of the action. The second example is clearly the so-called leísmo

of respect, here including “a usted” for confirmation.

ME-10: 18

...le enseña a uno a contarle un cuento al chiquito,...

..she/he teaches someone to tell a story to the child...

ME-11: 65

Como detalle curioso le contaré a usted...

Page 28: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


As a strange detail I'll tell you...

Verb environments for le/lo

We now turn to other analyses that explain the choice of le or lo. Where García (1975, 1977)

measures the relative level of activity to assign case, the Accusative is assigned to the lowest level of

activity and the Dative is assigned to an intermediate level of activity in referring to living beings. The

notion is that in the speaker who distinguishes case recognizes the potential for the referent to engage

in an activity. (Klein-Andreu, 2000:50) “Activity” differs from “prominence” in that activity is an

extension of the verb while prominence is the same speech act that distinguishes participants from non-

participants; participation depends upon the presence of the person.


As discussed earlier, entender evokes the pronoun in le with a human object. According to

García's analysis, the preferred pronoun is le with humans, “not because le and lo 'mean' person and

thing, but rather because people characteristically play a more active part in events than things do...”

(García, 1975:278) That is to say that people rank higher on the activity scale, LESS ACTIVE = le.

García also refers to intransitive verbs of state as evoking le. Forceful verbs and verbs of emotion,

according to her analysis, evoke lo while quieter verbs evoke le. “(A)ctions having a stronger effect on

the participant out of focus than those in focus occur with le,” she writes. (p. 347) In the following two

examples we see the same speaker employing object pronouns to differentiate the personal from the

impersonal. In #1, the speaker appears to consciously choose le in reference to her interlocutor, while

in #2 she refers to a non-personal entity. Cantero (1979:307) acknowledges the tendency of Mexican

Spanish to distinguish between entender with a personal object and entender with a non-personal

object. Le is preferred in the first case, as we discussed above and lo is preferred in the second.

1. ME-9: 191

...ella no hablaba una palabra de español, y yo no le entendía ni una palabra de inglés.

Page 29: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


...she didn't speak a single word of Spanish and I didn't understand le (from her) even a word of


2. ME-9: 124

Es una cosa, digamos, una prolongación de la Universidad Nacional; así lo endiendo.

It is a thing, we say, a prolonging of the National University; that's how I understand lo it.

Fernández-Ordóñez sheds further light on the choice of le with entender. Underlying the choice

of case is, among other influences, verbal aspect and negative actions, she observes. (1975:6) The

Accusative is tied to the perfect aspect and the Dative to the imperfect aspect, as evidenced in the

example above, both influences are operating in #1, which is both imperfect and negative. While the

choice of the Dative was appropriate above, in #2 the same speaker opted for the Accusative, which

responds to the García view that persons evoke le while things evoke lo.

In his discussion of the synonyms entender and comprender, DeMello (2002) notes that while

entender varies between lo and le, comprender is constructed exclusively with lo,. DeMello explains that

there is a semantic difference between the two verbs. As we explained above, when both mean “to

understand the basic nature of a person” they take lo, but entender shifts to le when the presence of a

second object is understood, as: entenderle a Juan. Here Juan is the IO and what Juan is telling is the DO.


Authors call some verb-choices leísmo without regarding the structural or semantic triggers,

Fernández-Ordóñez observes.(1999:14) These are often transitive verbs where Medieval Spanish

required Dative and Modern Spanish takes the Accusative. Fernández-Ordóñez observes that neither

ayudar nor enseñar absolutely require the Accusative and that distinguishing regions continue to use

case. However, she says that the Americas tend toward the Accusative. Some authors cite such verbs

as evidence of leísmo.22 Cantero Sandoval is one of these, and he includes the verbs ayudar and

22 Fernández-Ordóñez (1999)notes that enseñar retains case in distinguishing areas, Dative for personal object . n.

Page 30: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


enseñar of our corpus as examples of those where leísmo is frequently found. Fernández-Ordóñez

regards both as transitive verbs that were traditionally pronomialized in the Dative but more recently

have been interpreted as Accusative. The transformation varies in intensity depending upon the verb

and the region; in general, she writes, distinguishing areas maintain case but regions of the Americas

have seen a movement toward the Accusative. This does not appear to be the case in Mexican educated


García examines ayudar as a factor in favoring (or hindering) le. The meaning of the word

indicates that the out-of-focus participant is the motivation for the in-focus participant to act and thus

the out-of-focus participant is regarded as LESS ACTIVE rather than LEAST, thereby suggesting le

rather than lo.(1975:339) Another argument can be made for the use of the Dative for pronomialized

objects of ayudar, and that is that the Dative endures from the Latin. (Lapesa, 1991:22) In his analysis

of supposed Mexican leísmo, Cantero Sandoval maintains that ayudar is among that class of verbs

associated with Mexican leísmo and identified it as a verb of "frequent leísmo." However, the so-

called leísmo of respect operates in this example rather than the case system as the interviewer

addresses the respondent, so we are unable to address that question given the corpus.

ME-6: 133 (Interviewer speaking to respondent)

Enc.- Sí, de hecho, pues con su carrera le ayuda, me imagino, ¿verdad?

Yes, truly, since with your career it helps you, I imagine, true?

Comparing ayudarlo with ayudarle, DeMello found neither preferred in his analysis of popular

Mexican speech, each with a 50% showing, and he vehemently disputes Cantero Sandoval's assertion

of Mexican leísmo. (DeMello, 2002:264-265) García views ayudar as an element in favoring or

hindering the use of le,using “activity” as the trigger that motivates the choice.

12, p.14.23 Fernández-Ordóñez (1999) ayudar in Mexico prefers Dative when animate receives help (no a necessary) see n. 11, p. 14.

Page 31: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


(T)he ...lexical meaning of 'help' presupposes ... that the participant out of focus (the

party helped) is, may, or will be active: one can only help someone do something.

Inasmuch, then, as the actual or potential activity of the non-focus participant is a

motivation for the help offered by the participant in focus, we can expect this verb

naturally to incline to le, and so be fairly sensitive to the various forces that may

influence the choice of lo or le. (García, 1975:297)

Unfortunately, in this case it appears that the third person clitic is motivated by courtesy not by

focus or activity.


As with ayudar, some verbs, enseñar among them, dictate the use of le with people and lo with

things, García explains.(1975:318) This list also includes servir, creer, abrir, and contar. However, we

see in our example that the traditional Dative is used, and helping to determine the clitic choice is the

unpronomialized DO. In the first case below, la profesión supplies the inanimate Accusative that

predisposes the choice of le – were it not already historically determined – and in the second case

terapia recreativa helps condition the choice as well. Further, the LESS-ACTIVE/+human

participants add weight to the choice of le.

ME-06: 164-165

Yo trato de establecer una relación cordial con ellos, como siempre. Digo, quizá esto escapa

para muchas gentes, pero uno ya con lo que la profesión le ha enseñado...

I try to establish a cordial relationship with them, as always. I say, perhaps isn't obvious for

many people. But one with what I have already taught le the profession.... (to whom I have

already taught the...)

ME-10: 20-21

Y luego dan otro de terapia recreativa o afectiva, en el que...pues... le enseña a uno a contarle

Page 32: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


un cuento al chiquito

And later they give other recreational or emotional therapy in which, ...well... they teach

someone to tell a story to a child.

As Fernández-Ordóñez observes, enseñar retains case in conservative areas as it does in our

corpus, but when the subject taught is introduced by a in an infinitive phrase the personal object can be

Accusative24. García (1975:347) contrasts those verbs seen as intensely active with verbs that require

less effort; the less active list would include enseñar, which would by this formula routinely evoke le.

With an active verb such as educar, she says, would produce lo.

Inalienable possessor

In the following example using heredar, the Dative presents itself in a three-participant

situation with the father, viewed here as LESS ACTIVE/+HUMAN, le outranks the suffering of the

father. One could also view heredar as another ditransitive verb where the DO is clearly esa

predisposición, leaving the IO as the father. Additionally, there is the García's concept of “inalienable

possessor.” The speaker, a 62-year-old doctor had been speaking of his father's eardrum when he refers

to it initially: “Yo vi por primera vez una una membrana timpánica: la de mi padre. Se me grabó tanto

eso... le tenía yo interés.” The first reference to the eardrum is as a DO and the following reference to

the eardrum is as IO. The second reference appears to be an instance of what García refers to as

inalienable possessor where, as she explains, the human participant is an essential part of the verb


ME-11: 4

mi padre sufría mucho de un oído, y yo le heredé esa predisposición.

My father's ear caused him great pain and I inherited le that predisposition. (le from him)

24 Fernández-Ordóñez (1999:14 n.11) Ayudar in Mexico prefers Dative when an animate receives help (no a necessary).25 García (1975), 282-283.

Page 33: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use



In our corpus we encounter only two tokens of verbs of persuasion/influence as subjects of

infinitive clauses that Fernández-Ordóñez (1999) describes. (These examples are bare infinitives rather

than clauses, however.) As she explains, permitir -- a verb of persuasion -- would pronomialize the

subject of the infinitive phrase in the Dative.(p. 8) These tokens agree with her prediction.

ME-6: 196-197 inquietud no le permite captar porque está pensando en una cosa, en otra, está... haciendo

una travesura, está milestando al de más allá, entonces esa misma inquietud no le permite


... his restlessness does not allow him to learn because he is thinking about something or

another, he is... being naughty, he is bothering that over there, thus this same restless does not

permit him to concentrate....

We must note that, in addition to the syntactic determination of clitic proposed by Fernández-

Ordóñez, the García analysis of personhood also takes hold in these examples for it is clear that the

semantic caluclation leads the speaker to the same place, a use of le when referring to the child in question.


In our data, hacer occurs with the same frequency as decir but this verb is more interesting due to

the division of 26 tokens between the two clitics, six times with le and 10 times with lo. Three respondents

used hacer with both cases, many other conversations contained one or the other, numerically tending

toward the Dative. In contrasting the Dative with the Accusative in these examples, it is apparent that the

speakers manipulate the clitics to convey meaning and intent. It is also apparent that Mexican Spanish has

not yielded what were formerly Dative uses to the Accusative, as Fernández-Ordóñez points out.

ME-5: 120, 159

Gabriel, yo recuerdo el elogio fúnebre que le hizo monseñor Octaviano Valdés.

Page 34: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


Gabriel, I remember the funeral elegy that Monsignor Octavioano Valdes made le(for him).

Para expresar la metafísica, una cosa de suyo tan difícil, lo hacía con mucha claridad; a todos nos

dejaba muy contentos.

In order to express the metaphyics, a difficult thing of its own, he did so with great clarity;

all of us were left very happy.

ME-9: 27-28, 175

Da clases, trabaja dentro del medio, pero no lo hace, no lo lleva a cabo...

She/he teaches, works in the center, but she/he doesn't do it, she/he doesn't carry it out...

Bueno, hijita -le dije-, yo no sé hablar inglés. ¿Cómo le voy a hacer?

Well, little daughter, I said, I don't know how to speak English. How am I going to do it le

(for you)?

ME-10: 152, 303

Son las fiestas que le hacemos a los chiquitos.

There are parties that we create le (for the little ones).

Pues sí; sí, realmente sí lo hacemos; sí ayudamos mucho.

Well yes, yes, really we do lo it; yes we help a great deal.

The choice of le or lo, García argues in defining her yardstick of activity/potency, is an individual

matter, used to project meaning.

...(W)e cannot describe (or predict) exhaustively the infinitely varied references which the

use of le may have. We do state, however, that whenever le is used this is due to the

superior appropriateness of its meaning over that of lo; in particular, to the fact that the

position of le in the system puts it 'closer' to the item in focus, in terms of relative

activeness.” (García, 1975: 306)

In the following example, we see where the speaker has made just such a choice.

Page 35: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


ME-11: 7

Se me grabó tanto eso... le tenía yo interés.

That etched itself on me so deeply .. I was interested le. (I was interested in it.)

The speaker, a 62-year-old doctor had been speaking of his father's eardrum when he refers to it

initially: “Yo vi por primera vez una una membrana timpánica: la de mi padre. Se me grabó tanto eso...

le tenía yo interés.” The first reference to the eardrum is as a DO and the following reference to the

eardrum is as IO. The second reference appears to be an instance of what García refers to as

“inalienable possessor” mentioned above where, as she explains, the participant is an essential part of

the verb action. Here, according to García's analysis, there is a choice between le (LESS ACTIVE) and

lo/la (LEAST ACTIVE). The subject of the verb is the speaker and the eardrum of his father is

emotionally important to the speaker as a young boy, rising to the level of LESS ACTIVE rather than

LEAST. A second element contributing to the choice is the nature of the verb. Less active verbs in

two-participant situations evoke le, and in the case above tener is not an action verb. As García puts it,

action events prefer lo while verbs of state – such as tener – prefer le. (1975:344) Thus the above

instance of apparent leísmo – although it occurs with a singular, feminine animate entity and thus does

not rank as an example of traditional leísmo – is an example of what García views as the speaker's

creative use of the third person clitic to express meaning. Further support for tener taking le is aspect;

verbs in the imperfect are tied to the Dative, Fernández-Ordóñez says. (1999:7)


Tocar commonly alternates between Dative and Accusative, and changes meaning according to

the clitic employed.(García, 1975: 363) It is one of a number of verbs to do so, and Mexican Spanish

is not exceptional in this respect. With lo, tocar it means to touch, and with le it means to be someone's

lot. In #1, we see where a difficult situation was the lot of the first son. In #2, the child (human) is put

into a situation that touches him personally, thus the human rises to le.

Page 36: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


1. ME-08: 137

Regresamos, tuvimos el primer hijo, y pensamos que era muy difícil llevarlo (el primer hijo) a

Nueva York... entonces le tocaría un invierno muy duro...

We returned, we had our first child and we thought that it was very difficult to take him to New

York .. then le (for him) it would be a very tough winter...

2. ME-08: 201-202

Entonces, está funcionando... está representando un papel, en donde el niño está metido en una

situación que no le toca.

Thus, it is working... she is taking a role where the child is put into a situation that was not le his

lot. (wasn't of his making)

Leísmo of respect ( Leísmo de cortesía )

There is considerable evidence of the leísmo of respect operating in Mexican educated speech,

particularly since the data for this corpus were gathered in a converational situation. (Fernández-

Ordóñez, 1999; García, 1975, 1978; Klein-Andreu, 1996, 2000: 118) It is a tendency throughout the

Spanish speaking world to use le as usted form of respect (García, 1975; 1978; 1982). This supposed

leísmo marks the prominence of hearer over non-participant third person Use of le, emphasizes that

third person referent must be sought beyond the current setting, and that le does not hold anaforic

value. Fernández-Ordóñez illustrates the feature with these examples.

a. Pedro ha venido ya. ¿Le acompaño a la reunión? [a usted / *a él].

b. Pedro ha venido ya. ¿Lo acompaño a la reunión? [a él/a usted].(Fernández-Ordóñez 1999:24)

We see abundant examples of the leísmo of respect in the corpus of educated Mexican speakers. It is

asserted that the usage impacts usted masculine much more than usted feminine but we have not seen

evidence of that. (See ME-8 and ME-9 below, #2 and #4 where both respondents are female.) This

usage is, DeMello says, clearly the leísmo de cortesía and doesn't qualify as bona fide leísmo "since it is

Page 37: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


motivated by social considerations of respect based on the feeling that the pronoun le is of higher prestige

than lo, since lo is normally utilized as a DO pronoun with reference to things as well as people."

(DeMello: 2002: 278) In other words, it is purely a social phenomenon involving semantics and not the

syntactic construction required in leísmo. In #1 and #5 we see where the leísmo of respect is in full force

as the interviewer addresses the respondents, both male. And in #3, the female respondent addressed the

interviewer with formality, and distance.

1. ME-6: 133 (Interviewer speaking to male respondent)

Enc.- Sí, de hecho, pues con su carrera le ayuda, me imagino, ¿verdad?

Yes, truly, since with your career it helps you, I imagine, true?

2. ME-8: 1-2, 263-265 (Interviewer speaking to femal subject)

Bueno, en primer lugar le agradezco muchísimo que usted coopere con nosotros en este estudio

que estamos haciendo.

Well, in the first place I thank you very much for your cooperation with us in this study which

we're doing.

3. ME-8: 183 (mujer addressing the interviewer)

pero en verdad no es por culpa; es por lo que le vuelvo a repetir:

4. ME-9: 137-138 (Interviewer speaking to femal subject)

Otra persona.- ¿Qué le pareció Estados Unidos, señora?

Inf.- Poco conozco; fui poquito tiempo.

5. ME-11: 214 (Interviewer speaking to male respondent)

Enc.- Pues eso es lo que trato de que se acuerde. ¿Cuáles le han llenado, doctor?

6. ME-5: 75, 66 (Male addressing the interviewer, gender unknown)

No precisamente materias de tipo cultural, sino materias de tipo... como... científico, más bien;

esas que le he señalado.

Page 38: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


(Interviewer addresses the male respondent)

¿Me permite interrumpirlo?

In this last example, #6 (ME-5), it appears that the interviewer addresses the respondent with lo. But, as

García suggests, the entire context must be taken into account. Here, within the context of the

conversation, it appears that the interviewer is referring to the account and not the respondent when he

asks to interrupt the flow, not the person, thereby saying: Will you allow me to interrupt (the story)?

Enc.- ¿Nos lo pudiera decir?

Inf.- ¡Cómo no! Bueno... La lógica menor no la considero -ni la consideraban entonces- como

parte de los tratados fundamentales, porque -como usted sabe- en la escolástica, la lógica... es

decir... en la escolástica, que es fundamentalmente aristotélica, la lógica es el instrumento para

filosofar... diríamos, el material para filosofar, como si a un... a alguien que va a hacer una obra,

se le entregan las herramientas para hacerla. Entonces, la lógica la colocaban aparte, y ese era

un curso brevísimo, de tres meses.

Enc.- ¿Me permite interrumpirlo? (Will you allow me to interrupt it (the story)?)

Inf.- Sí, cómo no.


In this paper we examined interviews collected from educated speakers of Mexican Spanish for

evidence of leísmo, the generalized use of le for references to singular, human males as in “A Juan le vi

ayer,” (John, I saw yesterday). In answering the question of leísmo existing as part of the grammar of

urban Spanish in Mexico, we argue that according to the yardsticks employed in this paper, those of

García, Fernández-Ordóñez, and DeMello, it does not.

First, we separated verbs of communication – in this case decir, llamar, hablar, contar – from

other verb environments because the motivation for their use is common, that of conveying information

to an interlocutor. There is an apparent uniformity in their use that emerges upon inspection. Given the

Page 39: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


limitations of the sample size, it was impossible to demonstrate an identical parallel behavior among all

the verbs of communication. In general, however, they referred to the person addressed – whether or

not the person was present -- with the leísmo of respect, which is not true leísmo it is widely agreed.

García and Otheguy (1977) employed what they call a Form-Content analysis to demonstrate that le

and lo carry information about the strength of the participant's role, i.e., activeness, in the event named

by the verb. This situation persists, we saw, with respect to communications beyond the setting of the

conversation thereby provoking le to refer to other interlocutors – active non-participants – as with

these examples from the paper: contarle... al chiquito and le dije: “Mira, hija...”. As we have noted,

decir, hablar, and contar are ditransitive verbs where the thing talked about – the DO, receiver of the

action – is rendered in lo/la. We have also seen the variation predicted by García in the variation of

le/lo with llamar, where le is used exactly as with poner when “putting a name” on something, which is

not the definition of leísmo.(García, 1975) Nor can this be viewed as leísmo, García argues, because

the semantic interpretation is that of naming and not that of summoning someone as in llamarlo. Thus,

in the sample le llama, rather than being evidence of intermediate leísmo as asserted by Cantero

Sandoval, appears to agree with the meaning offered by García. A second interesting usage emerged

when the notion is one of calling or attracting attention where le was used exclusively in this sample

but since there was always a DO offsetting the IO, this situation failed to allow for the free choice of

clitic required in testing the presence of leísmo.

We then viewed the verb environments surrounding the use of le/lo. In this analysis, we looked

at entender, ayudar, enseñar, heredar, permitir, hacer, and tocar. We have seen where entender varies in

clitic choice between le and lo, alternating between the two as predicted by García and DeMello where

what is understood is lo and the choice of le depends upon personhood (García) and the presence of a

second object either actually or understood (DeMello). Ayudar is always present in any discussion of

leísmo (Cantero Sandoval, 1979; DeMello, 2002; Fernández-Ordóñez, 1999; García, 1975), but

Page 40: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


unfortunately only one token emerged in this corpus and that was clouded by the interviewer's using it

to address the respondent. Thus, no conclusion can be drawn about ayudar although Fernández-

Ordóñez regards the le as a pattern common to Mexican Spanish and not required by leísmo but being

one of those verbs that have been reinterpreted over time. Enseñar appears only with le in our sample,

but both le and lo can be explained using García's (1975) clitic treatment of persons versus things. She

expands the case for le use by arguing that enseñar, as a less-active verb, would in any situation tend to

evoke the Dative. As for the verb heredar, it appears that two influences are operating, the first, that of

being the IO following the noun DO, and the second is that of Garcías concept of inalienable possessor

where the intimacy of the object is closely tied to a human participant, and not that of leísmo. In the

case of permitir, a verb of persuasion is normally pronomialized in the Dative, according to Fernández-

Ordóñez. Further, García's theory of personhood evoking le can be invoked to underscore the choice of

le with permitir, and not leísmo.

Hacer is one of the two most abundant verbs in our sample and divided between le and lo. In

all three speakers who used lo in one instance and le in another, the choice appears to be made on the

basis of human (le) versus non-human or thing (lo)according to García's analysis. This choice is made

to convey meaning even though the DO is not always present. In dealing with the sole token of tener, it

appears that García's analysis of inalienable possessor is engaged in referring to a human ear. It is not

clear whether the Fernández-Ordóñez (1999) aspect analysis has an influence, but that analysis points

in the same direction. And finally, in dealing with the verbs' environment we look at tocar, which

conventionally varies in meaning between lo and le. The García analysis applies equally here, varying

according to semantic significance and in the direction predicted, which has nothing to do with leísmo

despite the fact that a single, male human was referred to with le. It appears, then, that with these

verbs as with those of communication, leísmo does not influence the choice but some other factor.

Chief among the influences, it appears, is that of the object's position on the activity scale – LESS vs.

Page 41: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


LEAST – as well as the influence of +/- HUMAN. Far from being syntactic, these are semantic

influences. The intended message dictates the choice so that with only limited evidence the choice of le

indicates an animate subject. García and Otheguy (1977) argue that le is always the same, and its

meaning permits variation with lo in some contexts, as we have seen above, and its categorical use in

other contexts. A semantic analysis reveals a context that supports le or lo while, they argue, a

syntactic analysis serves only to show only where le deviates from “acceptability”.

The leísmo of respect, which is by all accounts not a true leísmo, has been dealt with here in a

straightforward manner, by showing how educated Mexican Spanish speakers follow the custom

observed generally in the Spanish-speaking world. Le in a conversational setting is not deictic, it is the

respectful object pronoun for usted. It has been maintained (Fernández-Ordóñez,1999) that the leísmo

of respect toward males is more frequent than that toward females, we have not found that to be the

case, but the reader must be cautioned that this is an extremely small sample.

In sum, what we have observed in this sample of educated Mexican Spanish, despite what might

be called “interesting” uses of le, cannot be interpreted as traditional leísmo, i.e. the categorical use of

the Dative third person singular in place of the Accusative. True confusion between the Dative and the

Accusative is not apparent in our sample. Instead, the choice made by speakers is colored by the nature

of the construction and is controlled by a change of meaning, not syntax. According to Fernández-

Ordóñez (1999), regional variation in zones that distinguish case follow the case required by certain

verbs and in certain structures, including sociolinguistic differences. That appears to be operating here.

The implications for immersion experiences for students of Spanish are enormous. L2 speakers

already struggling to fit into an entirely foreign speech community find themselves frustrated by "all

those little words," particularly when the students avail themselves of opportunities to immerse

themselves in Spanish in Valladolid, for instance, which uses the "referential" system of leísmo (zona

inovadora -- Klein-Andreu (2000:35)), or perhaps turn to immersion experiences offered by language

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schools in Mexico where the etymological form of clitic use is said to predominate, or not

exceptionally to Ecuadorian language schools offered by some U.S. universities where contact with

Quichua turns clitic use on its head. (García & Otheguy, 1983). We have seen some variation in le/lo

use in educated Mexican Spanish, but the variation is not arbitrary nor do we believe it is leísmo.


It must be remembered that in assessing the extent of leísmo in Mexican Spanish, the sample is

quite small and is restricted to educated speakers of middle age. It would be presumptious to extend

the conclusions of this paper to the country at large or even to broader sociolinguistic strata. In

addition, there has been work on popular Mexican Spanish (DeMello, 2002; Moreno de Alba,1995;

Torres Cacoullos, 2002) that suggests greater variety in clitic usage, an interesting and possibly

productive area. There is also the question of clitic usage that has been purposely excluded from this

paper due to the volume of research and density of opinion that accrues to them, namely se le

constructions, le in three-entity situations, leísmo in feminine pronouns, and leísmo usage with plurals.

Future research

With regard to Mexican Spanish, it appears that se has assumed a prominence that we have not

dealt with. The se le of this sample greatly outnumbered the combined incidence of se lo and se la.

Further research. With respect to L2 student acquisition of Spanish clitics, a most intriguing proposition

presents itself with the work of Fernández-Ordóñez (1993) who notes that the strange lo of Andean zones

and indigenous Mexico has been tied to linguistic aberrations in the speaker's L1, such as lack of gender,

number agreement, and the expression of case. It would be interesting to investigate similar phenomena

with respect to L1 English speakers – whose language lacks gender, number agreement, and largely lacks

case – and their acquisition of those features in Spanish.

Page 43: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use




admitir 1

agradecer 2

ayudar 1

conceder 1

contar 2

dar 11

decir 25

enseñar 2

entender 1

evitar 1

hablar 6

hacer 6

heredar 1

indicar 2

ir 1

llamar 9

llenar 1

ofrecer 1

parecer 4

pasar 1

permitir 2

platicar 1

poner 1

preguntar 1

prometer 1

recomendar 1

repercutir 1

repetir 1

revalidar 1

satisfacer 1

señalar 1

tener interés 1

tocar 2

Page 44: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use




agradecer 2 1

dar 11 1

decir 25 1

entender 1 3

hablar 6 2

hacer 6 20

pasar 1 1

platicar 1 1

poner 1 3

tener 1 2



abandonar 1

aceptar 2

agradecer 1

alcanzar 1

cargar 1

catalogar 1

citar 2

comprender 1

conceder 1

conocer 9

construir 2

creer 1

cuidar 1

dar 1

decidir 1

decir 1

dejar 2

entender 3

Page 45: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use



escuchar 1

establecer 2

extraer 1

fundar 1

hablar 2

hacer 20

ignorar 1

imaginar 1

impartir 3

interpretar 1

interrumpir 1

leer 1

llevar 2

mandar 1

manejar 3

matar 1

medir 1

mencionar 1

negar 1

observar 1

pasar 1

perder 1

perseguir 1

platicar 1

poner 3

rechazar 3

recibir 1

recorrer 1

retener 1

rodear 1

saber 5

sacar 1

Page 46: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use


seguir 3


sentir 1

separar 1

ser 1

sobreproteger 1

suplir 1

tener 2

tirar 1

tomar 2

traer 1

tratar 1

vender 1

ver 1

Page 47: Mexican Spanish -- 3rd person object pronoun use



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