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Evolution in Romance Verbal Systems


Edited By Emmanuelle Labeau and Jacques Bres

The present book focuses on evolution in the Romance verbal systems. In the wake of Bybee’s and Dahl’s studies, it advocates the benefits of adopting a cross-linguistic and diachronic approach to the study of linguistic phenomena. Within the scope of the Romance family, similar cross-linguistic evolution paths are explored, as related languages at different stages of grammaticalisation may shed light on each other’s developments. A diachronic dimension also proves desirable for several reasons. First, a diachronic approach significantly enhances the explanatory power of linguistic theory by showing how a specific form came to convey a certain function. Second, change is better revealed in diachronic movement than in static synchrony. Third, meaning constantly evolves and a one-off probe will be less revealing than a sustained study through time. Finally and most importantly, similarities across languages appear more obviously in diachrony. All the chapters of this volume participate in their own way to that crosslinguistic and diachronic approach and help make it an original, focused contribution that covers all main Romance languages.


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Mary T. COPPLE Following the path: An emerging perfect(ive) viewed through temporal reference 55


Following the path: An emerging perfect(ive) viewed through temporal reference Mary T. COPPLE, Kansas State University The grammaticalization path of perfects from resultative to perfective has been much discussed (Harris 1982; Bybee, Perkins, and Pagliuca 1994; Squartini and Bertinetto 1995, 2000); however, diachronic comparisons of a grammaticalizing perfect with a competing perfective form are more rarely presented (see Caron and Liu 1999; Liu 2004). In some varieties of con- temporary Peninsular Spanish, the Present Perfect (PP) now competes with the Preterit for use in perfective contexts, and exhibits advanced grammati- calization as it is well established in hodiernal temporal reference (Schwenter 1994b; Serrano 1994; Schwenter and Torres Cacoullos 2008). The diachronic evolution in Peninsular Spanish of these two forms, PP and Preterit, is the subject of this study. The PP was already functioning as a resultative in the Middle Ages (Company 1983; Detges 2006). This study traces the transformation of the PP as it expanded into different temporal reference contexts. PP and Pret- erit data from the 15th, 17th, and 19th centuries were drawn from dramatic texts in order to compare the two forms and document evidence of PP grammaticalization: changes in relative frequency between the two forms, rigidification of syntax that demonstrates a strengthening of the PP con- struction, and semantic extension of the PP into new temporal reference contexts. The 15th century PP is far less frequently used than the Preterit. Howev- er, the PP shows evidence of expansion from its resultative function to include “hot news...

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