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Primero mi pregunta en español:

Cuando veo una inversión de la orden de las palabras involucrando un adverbio de una oración, ¿significa esto que hace hincapié?

Details in English:

The other day I was practicing Spanish via an exercise in Spanish Grammar in Context, Chapter 30: Word Order. I would imagine that there's some flexibility in sentence formation, but two of my answers did not match the answer key and left me with questions about word order in Spanish that I haven’t come across and/or found definitive answers to. Each left me with questions for different reasons, the first of which I will pose in this post here.

To give you some background, the instructions for this exercise were to rewrite a sentence beginning with the underlined word. I misunderstood the instructions a bit and simply focused on moving the underlined word to a different position in the sentence, but had I followed instructions, I might not have thought to ask this question.

Below you will see the sentence that was to be rewritten, the answers from the answer key (in this case, two versions were given), and my answer. Underneath each are my translations.

Heretofore, I have not been too concerned about my placement of adverbials in my English translations, but as my Spanish improves I want to learn how to capture, in English, the word order that was used in Spanish. You will also note that I have italicized and bolded the word that I believe is being emphasized in the sentence based on the teachings found in the aforementioned chapter of this book. Please tell me if my understanding of what is being emphasized is correct.

By the way, the chapter covers 11 points regarding word order and often, when usual word order is not used, it indicates that the out-of-place element has emphasis. Specifically with regard to adverbial positioning, the book states

Adverbial phrases can be highlighted by placing them before the verb … (p. 224)

However, as you will see with my final example sentence — the one I came up with — I don’t have a strong feeling that this is always the case. Furthermore, it appears that placing an adverb at the end of a sentence is rare. Are there any rules governing this? Or is this just a tendency that naturally occurs in the Spanish language?

Whatever the case may be, for each sentence listed, I include my reason for thinking the element has emphasis.

For the sentence to be rewritten, I will assume that the creators of this book chose sentences that were written rather neutrally and will therefore also assume that nothing in particular is being emphasized in these base sentences (of which I am only providing one example, along with the two answers given for it, and my attempt to provide a correct answer).

REWRITE: La fresa es la fruta que más se cultiva a̲q̲u̲í̲.*
TRANSLATION: The strawberry is the fruit that is most cultivated here.

*The underlined word was "aquí."

ANSWER KEY: Aquí la fruta que más se cultiva es la fresa.
TRANSLATION: Here the fruit that is most cultivated is the strawberry.
I believe "here" is being emphasized because adverbs typically come after the verb they modify and this one is bumped all the way to the start of the sentence. A secondary emphasis appears to be on “fruit” since it is placed before strawberry.

ANSWER KEY: Aquí la fresa es la fruta que más se cultiva.
TRANSLATION: Here the strawberry is the fruit that is most cultivated.
Again, it appears that “here” is getting emphasis due to its placement. Unlike the previous sentence, a secondary emphasis appears to be on “strawberry” rather than “fruit.”

MY ANSWER: La fresa es la fruta que aquí se cultiva más.
TRANSLATION: The strawberry is the fruit that is cultivated most here.
If the rule about typically placing the adverb after the verb is reversed in the sentence above, it would seem, then, that the adverb is being emphasized, but, at the same time, I know it is less common to have an adverb end a sentence/phrase/clause. The pie chart below shows you by just how much:

Because of this, it seems odd to assume that “here” is then being emphasized. Thoughts? Rules/advice from personal knowledge/cited sources?

Detalles en español:

El otro día, estaba practicando el español a través de un ejercicio en Spanish Grammar in Context, Capítulo 30: Orden de las palabras. Imaginaría que hay flexibilidad en la formación de oraciones, pero dos de mis respuestas no coinciden con la hoja de respuestas y me dejaron con dudas sobre el orden de las palabras en español para las que no he encontrado respuestas definitivas. Cada uno me dejó con preguntas por diferentes razones, la primera de las cuales presentaré aquí.

Para darles un poco más de información, las instrucciones para este ejercicio eran reescribir la oración comenzando con la palabra subrayada. Entendí un poco mal las instrucciones y simplemente me centré en mover la palabra subrayada a una posición diferente en la oración, pero si hubiera seguido instrucciones, es posible que no se me hubiera ocurrido hacer esta pregunta.

A continuación van a ver la oración que iba a ser reescrita, las respuestas de la hoja de respuestas (en este caso, dieron dos versiones) y mi respuesta. Debajo de cada una están mis traducciones.

Por ahora, no he estado demasiado preocupada con la ubicación de adverbiales en mis traducciones inglesas, pero a medida que mi español mejora quiero aprender a capturar, en inglés, el orden de las palabras que se usa en español. También observarán que he puesto en cursiva y negrita la palabra en que creo que están haciendo hincapié en la oración basada en las enseñanzas encontradas en el capítulo del libro antes mencionado. Por favor, díganme si mi entendimiento de en lo que se está haciendo hincapié es correcto.

Por cierto, el capítulo cubre 11 puntos relativos al orden de las palabras y, muchas veces, cuando no se usa un orden de palabras, indica que elementos fuera de lugar hacen hincapié. Específicamente, con respecto a la ubicación adverbial, los autores del libro escriben:

Frases adverbiales se pueden destacar colocando ellas antes del verbo … (p. 224)

Sin embargo, como van a ver en mi último ejemplo — el que creé — no tengo un sentimiento fuerte que esto es así siempre. Además, parece que colocando un adverbio al fin de una oración es raro. ¿Hay reglas que gobierna esto? O, ¿es esto sólo una tendencia que ocurre naturalmente en la lengua española?

Cualquiera que sea el caso, para cada oración ven a continuación, incluyo mi razón de pensar que el elemento hace hincapié.

Respecto a la oración a re-redactarse, asumiré que los creadores de este libro eligieron oraciones que fueron escritas bastante neutrales y que nada en particular hace hincapié en estas oraciones iniciales (más que sólo proporcionar un ejemplo, junto con sus dos respuestas y mi intento de proporcionar una respuesta correcta).

REESCRIBIR: La fresa es la fruta que más se cultiva a̲q̲u̲í̲.
TRADUCCIÓN: The strawberry is the fruit that is most cultivated here.

_*La palabra subrayada fue aquí.

HOJA DE RESPUESTAS: Aquí la fruta que más se cultiva es la fresa.
TRADUCCIÓN: Here the fruit that is most cultivated is the strawberry.
Creo que “aquí” hace hincapié porque adverbios normalmente siguen el verbo que modifican y ésto se encuentra al principio de la oración. Un énfasis secundario parece darse a “fruta” desde que se coloca antes de “fresa.”

HOJA DE RESPUESTAS: Aquí la fresa es la fruta que más se cultiva.
TRADUCCIÓN: Here the strawberry is the fruit that is most cultivated.
Otra vez, parece se que “aquí” hace hincapié debido a su ubicación. Al contrario a la frase anterior, parece que énfasis secundario está en “fresa” en vez de “fruta.”

MI RESPUESTA: La fresa es la fruta que aquí se cultiva más.
TRADUCCIÓN: The strawberry is the fruit that is cultivated most here.
Si la regla sobre colocar normalmente el adverbio después del verbo se invierte en la frase arriba, parecería, entonces, que hace hincapié el adverbio, pero, al mismo tiempo, sé que es menos común tener un adverbio termina una oración/frase/cláusula. El gráfico circular les muestra la cantidad de la diferencia:

[Véanse arriba.]

Por esto, parece entonces extraño asumir que “aquí” hace hincapié. ¿Pensamientos? ¿Reglas/consejo de conocimiento personal/fuentes citadas?

  • 1
    Lisa, interesting question. Note, I think you're slightly misusing hincapié -- when you have a chance, take a look at it with linguee.com to see how it gets used. – aparente001 Mar 20 '18 at 23:48
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    When you're composing a complex sentence, only the portion that actually is the question must have the question sign. Your sentence should be: Cuando veo una inversión del orden de las palabras involucrando un adverbio de una oración, ¿significa esto que tiene hincapié? – Carlos Arturo Serrano Mar 22 '18 at 15:53
  • @CarlosArturoSerrano Good eye. I usually try to adhere to that, but I think the "cuando," even though not used as an interrogative, must have thrown me off. Thank you for pointing out my slipshod use of punctuation. It has since been corrected. – Lisa Beck Mar 24 '18 at 23:20
  • @aparente001 It is quite possible that I may be misusing "hincapié." In fact, it is a word that is really rather new to me. I'll readily admit that I'm more familiar with "énfasis," and should have used it instead, but when Reverso revealed that "hincapié" was more frequent and since I recently heard it used in speech, I decided to try to start using it. Perhaps my observations are incorrect, but it appears that you use "hincapié" as part of a verbal phrase with "hacer." Otherwise, it's probably best to go with "énfasis." Is this what you are so subtly and politely pointing my attention to? – Lisa Beck Mar 24 '18 at 23:38
  • @aparente001 I assumed that my assumptions were correct and went ahead and made some corrections. Thank you for leading this horse to water. I hope I drank from it well. – Lisa Beck Mar 24 '18 at 23:46
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The first position in the sentence is, as you have already surmised, the one chosen for a certain kind of emphasis, the one given to the newly introduced topic or theme of the sentence. This topic fronting is extremely common among languages, and you can find it in English as well, although of course it doesn't work exactly as in Spanish.

The topic is the thing being talked about, and as such it's rather logical to state it in full first thing, and then to drop it (in Spanish) or replace it by a pronoun (in English) in subsequent sentences, once it's clear from context. It often coincides with the subject, which syntactically tends to come first in any case.

Topic fronting works through left dislocation. It serves the purpose of marking a new topic or theme as current from that point on.

The seemingly paradoxical fact that in the sample phrase you Googled, the "emphasized" phrase seems to be vastly more common than the one with the "normal" word order, is that you've picked a type of construction that lends itself naturally to topic fronting: a comparison or contrast.

Consider that a new topic comes at the front, and the comment (the information you give about the topic) follows. If you're talking about fruits cultivated in a place, is the topic the fruits or the place? Whichever one is the topic will come first. Now, if it's the fruits, what do you want to say about them? Are you talking about a specific fruit, or about fruits in general?

If the topic is the place:

Aquí la fruta que más se cultiva es la fresa.

If the topic is the (kind of) fruit:

La fruta que más se cultiva aquí es la fresa.

If the topic is the (specific) fruit:

La fresa es la fruta que más se cultiva aquí.

You Googled se cultiva más aquí and got only four results. This might be due to:

  1. If it's a superlative or comparative involving aquí as a topic, aquí would naturally move to the front of the sentence, as explained above.
  2. If aquí is not the topic, then the phrase reads almost surely as a comparative, not a superlative, and then the comparison can only refer to the amount of cultivation being done in a place vs. in another place: La fresa se cultiva más aquí que en cualquier otro lugar. This comparison is not nearly as common as a superlative phrase stating where something is most frequent.
  • please feel free to roll back my edits if they don't seem helpful. – aparente001 Mar 20 '18 at 23:43
  • @aparente001 They're very helpful, thanks. – pablodf76 Mar 21 '18 at 0:10
  • @pablodf76 Wow. What a brilliant answer. When you inserted phrases such as "topic fronting" and "left dislocation" there was no doubt in my mind that you really know what you're talking about and are one of Spanish SE's finest contributors. Google searches can expose some patterns, and that's better than just guessing. But, as this example shows, the patterns revealed may lead to some faulty conclusions. Nothing like a native speaker to provide a definitive answer. Muy bien hecho. Mil gracias. – Lisa Beck Mar 24 '18 at 23:32
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    You're making me blush. :) I got myself some basic knowledge of linguistics a while ago. Jargon is not always advisable, but I find that naming a specific phenomenon is useful for the one who reads about it, because they can then search for it elsewhere. I also find that pragmatic subjects like topicality and emphasis are often not taught very well in foreign language classes, which is a shame since they're not that hard to grasp and there's a lot of literature about them. – pablodf76 Mar 25 '18 at 2:18

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