Watch where you’re sticking those clitics.
Further research on pronouns in the Romance languages led me to the Tobler-Mussafia Law which was formulated during the great age of sound laws (independently, it’d seem, and just over ten years apart [1875 and 1886] by these two gentlemen). It says that “in Medieval Romance languages object clitics appear postverbally only when being preverbal would place them in clause initial position.” I was curious to see whether this observation might hold for the behaviour of dO pronouns in Galician and Portuguese; but in spite differences with the other Romance languages, they still behave differently again.
Hirschbühler (2001:2) outlines the history of clitic pronouns in French.
Stage 1. Clitics are excluded from the initial position of the minimal clause in all types of clauses. (Strict Tobler-Mussafia stage)
Stage 2. Clitics are allowed in preverbal position when the minimal clause is introduced by a conjunction of coordination like et.
Stage 3. Clitics are allowed in absolute initial position in all clauses except imperatives.
Stage 4. Clitics are excluded from preverbal position in positive imperative clauses only, even when the verb is non-initial.
At Stage 1, it appears that pronouns can be proclitic provided they aren’t clause initial. Hirschbühler (2001:2,3) cites some examples of imperative, declarative and interrogative sentences from Old French which illustrate that the grammar of all these types was identical.
Un vaissel nuvel me portéz é sél m’i metéz. (QLR:176,20 in Kok:78)
‘Bring me a new dish and put salt in it for me.’
Pursiu les, senz dute les prendras, sis ociras.’ (QLR:58,8 in Kok:84)
‘Chase them, without doubt you will catch them, and kill them.’
Allez en est en un verger suz l’umbre. (Roland:11)
‘He went into a garden, into the shade.’
Li duze per, pur ço qu’il l’aiment tant, / Desfi les ci, sire, vostre veiant. (Roland:325-6)
‘The twelve Peers, because they love him so/ I hereby defy them, sire, in your presence.’
Sire, (…) ensi vous avint il? (Merlin II 46 in Skårup:161)
‘Sire, (…) did it happen to you so?’
Plaist te, Sire, que jó en alge á une des citez de Juda? (QLR 62,1 in Kok:83)
‘Would it please you, sire, if I went to one of the cities of Juda?’
Another way of describing this is to say that the pronoun ends up in the second position (or “is the second element”) in the clause. In all the examples, the pronoun is always second to some other phrase. Co-ordinating conjunctions (é “and”), on the other hand, have no effect on this phenomenon.
Pur có, receif cest present de ta ancele é dune le á ces cumpainguns…
‘For this, receive this present from your servant and give it to these people’ (QLR, in D&K:332)
And although a dO pronoun may be enclitic to a subject pronoun, a parenthetic element splits them, hence jol… “I-him…”, but jo… le… “I… him…” as in
Jo, qui voldreie parler a tei, le receverái. (Kok: 173)
‘I, who would like to talk to you, will receive him’
I’m not sure I’d say that the relative clause is parenthetic or that there’s anything unusual happening here. The clause is dependent on jo, not le, hence *Jol, qui voldreie parler a tei, receverái would be ungrammatical.[3,4]
But Galician doesn’t even raise the pronoun to the second position in declarative clauses, even when it would safely be non-initial in the clause.
Túa irmá tróuxovos un regalo. “Your sister brought you a present.”
I don’t know whether the writing the verb and the pronoun as a single word is mere convention or reflects some sort of linguistic reality. We could equally and legitimately do the same with unstressed dO pronouns in English. Consider the following sentence where “her” in spoken English is reduced to shwa.
In other words, the convention in English might be to write “I lefter” (= I left her) and “I leftim” (=I left him); but it isn’t.
Galves (2001) says that Classical Portuguese (16th-19th century) still had V2 and V1-enclisis. Examples of the latter (Galves 2001:2) are given below.
veedeo-lhe hua terra de pão com terra de mato (16th c.)
(he) sold-to-him a land of bread with land of forest
Levanta-se este assunto sobre toda a esfera da capacidade humana (17th c.)
raises-SE this topic about all the sphere of human capacity
Obrigão-me os médicos a tomar vinho quinado em jejum (18th c.)
oblige-me the doctors to take wine with quina on an empty stomach
Trouxe- me grande tranquilidade a tua carta (19th c.)
brought-me great quietness your letter
This is a long standing feature of Portuguese.
Curiously, a distinction is made between types of subjects. If the subject is an indefinite pronoun, the object pronoun is raised in front of the verb; but if the subject is specific, then the pronoun follows the verb.
Alguém me viu “Someone saw me”
O Paulo viu-me “Paul saw me”
But according to Galves, O Paulo me viu was the preferred construction in Classical Portuguese.
Galves (2003) raises an issue I hinted at above. Although Portuguese partially obeys the Tobler-Mussafia Law, sentences like Túa irmá tróuxovos un regalo or O Paulo falou-me “Paul spoke to me” don’t. Or if they do, additional mechanisms are required to explain this variation. Classical Portuguese itself only obeys the law when the verb is absolutely initial. Otherwise, pronouns may be enclitic or proclitic, usually the latter.
As outras prophecias cumprem-se a seu tempo (17th c.)
the other prophecies achieve-SE (“are achieved”) in their time
Estes thesouros, pois, que agora estão cerrados, se abrirão a seu tempo (17th c.)
these treasures, therefore, that now are closed, SE-will-open (“will be opened”) in its time
The situation is very OT-like, where V1-enclisis » V2 in a relationship that recalls Panini’s Theorem of particular constraints being ranked above general ones.
I shall leave you to do further research on the syntactic analyses of this phenomenon, since they are beyond my limited comprehension. It seems, though, that the analysis of clitics in the Romance languages is still a matter of debate.
1. Though let it not be forgotten that my knowledge of these languages is somewhat slight. There may be more variety among the other Romance languages than I’m aware of.
2. Don’t confuse “position” or “element” with “word” here. I’m talking about phrases.
3. I haven’t been able to determine whether voldreie violates S-V agreement when le is the antecedent. From what I can find, it seems that the form may be invariable. Bauer and Slocum are wanting when it comes to discussing the conditional. [24.12.07 If voldreie is a variation of voldroie, then the 3rd sg would presumably be voldroit.]
4. If the sentence was meant to mean “I will receive him who would like to talk to you”, how would that be expressed in Old French? I lack the resources and knowledge to be able to answer this question, but the options appear to be “Jo le, qui etc.”, which strikes me as unlikely if jo+le > jol; or “Receverái le, qui etc.”, which satisfies the second position pattern. Old French was a pro-drop language, hence this would be possible.
Galves, Charlotte (2001). Agreement, Predication, and Pronouns in the History of Portuguese. MS. Unicamp, Brésil. (cgalves_2001.pdf)
Galves, Charlotte (2003). Clitic-placement in the History of Portuguese and the Syntax-Phonology Interface. MS. State University of Campinas. (cgalves_2003a.pdf)
Hirschbühler, Paul (2001). Clitic placement in imperatives: from Old French to Contemporary French. MS. University of Ottawa. (DIGS.pdf)