Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

E-mail this page 1

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Dissertation Information

Title: A Diachronic Study of the Spanish Perfect(ive): Tracking the constraints on a grammaticalizing construction Add Dissertation
Author: Mary Copple Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of New Mexico, Spanish
Completed in: 2009
Linguistic Subfield(s): Historical Linguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics;
Subject Language(s): Spanish
Director(s): Rena Cacoullos

Abstract: The grammaticalization of perfects along the path from resultative to
perfective has been much researched (Harris 1982, Bybee et al. 1994);
however, debate continues about the inclusion of Stage II (continuative
perfects) and how extension to perfective contexts occurs (Squartini and
Bertinetto 1995, 2000). In some varieties of contemporary Peninsular
Spanish, the Present Perfect (PP) competes with the Preterit for use in
perfective contexts, and now exhibits advanced grammaticalization as it is
well established in Hodiernal temporal reference (Schwenter 1994b, Serrano
1994). Furthermore, comparision of variation patterns in Peninsular and
Mexican Spanish suggests that indeterminate temporal reference (perfective,
but not temporally specified) is the context most susceptible to further
perfective grammaticalization (Schwenter and Torres Cacoullos 2008). This
study examines PP grammaticalization from a diachronic, variationist
perspective. PP and Preterit data from three different centuries (15th,
17th, and 19th) are drawn from dramatic texts in order to define the
contexts of use for the two competing forms and the linguistic factors that
constrained the variation.

In the 15th century, the PP is characterized as a resultative/emerging
perfect. At this early stage, in Immediately Preceding temporal reference
contexts the PP has developed a 'hot news' function, while extension to
Irrelevant and Indeterminate temporal reference contexts is concentrated in
semantic classes associated with resultative use. In the 17th century, the
PP truly becomes established as a perfect, extending to all semantic verb
classes in Irrelevant temporal reference contexts, with an accompanying
rise in frequency relative to the Preterit. The PP also extends its use in
Indeterminate contexts, and those contexts are selected as favorable in the
Variable Rule Analysis for the 17th century. In the 19th century,
Hodiernal contexts favor selection of the PP as the form continues its
extension into perfective and temporally specified contexts.

It is concluded that the non-specified temporal reference contexts play a
special role in the PP’s grammaticalization: the Irrelevant PP function
helps to solidify the event focus of the 'hot news' perfect, while the
Indeterminate function relaxes the restrictions of current relevance by
strengthening the PP’s association with perfectivity.