Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures & Languages


Ricardo Otheguy

Committee Members

José del Valle

Beatriz Lado

Subject Categories

Linguistics | Semantics and Pragmatics


Focalizing ser, meaning, Colombian Spanish, linguistic context, truthful information, delimitation.


One of the syntactic features of Colombian Spanish is the usage of focalizing SER (“TO BE”) reported by Cuervo (1885); Curnow & Travis (2003); Mendez (2009), among others authors, in constructions such as pago es el arriendo (I pay is the rent), or vino fue hoy (he/she came was right now) in alternation with simple forms (pago el arriendo- I pay the rent, or vino ahora- he/she came right now) and pseudo-clefts (Lo que yo pago es el arriendo- What I pay is the rent, or when he/she came was right now) respectively.The construction with focalizing SER (henceforth,FS) also has been reported in countries like Venezuela (Sedano, 1994;2003;2006), Panama, Ecuador (Kany, 1951) and Dominican Republic (Toribio, 2002). Most research has focused on sentence constituents from a structuralist point of view or a variationist sociolinguistics perspective. In general, these approaches argue that constructions with FS are variants of the pseudo-clefts constructions (henceforth, SC), and then they mean the same.

On the other hand, Bosque (1998-99) consider that FS constructions are different structurally and functionally respect to the SC construction. In this thesis we demonstrate that FS constructions indicate a meaning supported by elements of the linguistic context which legitimize it as unique and then different from the other two types of constructions (SC and simples forms). Our goal is to explain the linguistic motivation of the Colombian speakers when choosing the FS construction in place of the other two forms in acts of speech. Our theoretical base is Columbia School approach founded by William Diver. According to Diver (2012), “A meaning begins as something unobservable, as a hypothesis, as something not to be recognized at a glance. The signal too is a hypothesis, something to be arrived at only as a result of an analytical procedure that demonstrates that it is the constant indicator of a particular meaning”. Then, our signal (FS construction) indicates that it is related to a truthful and delimited information. This hypothetic meaning is supported by linguistic context elements identified in the discourse of Colombian speakers.