Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 November 2009
Despite the interest in null direct objects in Spanish, the case of direct objects with propositional antecedents, which complement cognition and communication verbs, remains mostly uninvestigated. This article investigates, from a comparative variationist perspective, null direct objects with propositional antecedents, variably coded by the clitic lo, in Mexican and Peninsular Spanish. Variable rule analysis of six Spanish corpora reveals a big difference between the two dialects in the frequency of overt vs. null neuter pronoun yet shows that some of the linguistic constraints conditioning the variation are shared by both dialects (presence of a dative pronoun, type of antecedent, sentence type), suggesting that the null pronoun has the same grammatical role in both dialects. Some divergences in the conditioning of the null pronoun also emerge from the analysis and the sociodemographic information available suggests the existence of a change in progress in Mexican Spanish.