Malte Rosemeyer (publiziert)

Auxiliary selection in Spanish

Gradience, gradualness, and conservation

1. SupervisorProf. Dr. Rolf Kailuweit
2. SupervisorProf. Dr. Daniel Jacob

This PhD thesis describes the change in the system of auxiliary selection in Spanish. Until the end of the 17th century haber ('have') + participle replaced ser ('be') + participle in intransitive past contexts. In a first step I demonstrate that the two constructions do not have the same function in Old Spanish. A quantitative analysis of the distribution of the two constructions in a corpus of Spanish historiographical texts demonstrates that haber + PtcP is typically used as an anterior, whereas ser + PtcP is typically used as a copula construction with resultative function.

In a second step I describe the relevant factors for the development of Spanish auxiliary selection in historiographical texts after 1425. The directedness and speed of the process by which ser + PtcP was lost can be described by (a) the prototypicality of usage contexts of the replaced construction ser + PtcP and (b) the absolute frequency of use of specific ser + PtcP syntagms.

I demonstrate that prototypical usage contexts of ser + PtcP are affected at a later point in time by the replacement process because these contexts are dissimilar to the original transitive usage contexts of the expanding construction haber + PtcP. As a result, in these usage contexts ser + PtcP tokens can be found in late texts. The diachronic gradualness of the replacement process results in the synchronic gradience documented in the Auxiliary Selection Hierarchy.

Highly frequent ser + PtcP syntagms are subject to processes of conservation: they lose the paradigmatic connection to the original construction. Consequently, late ser + PtcP examples display paradigmatic atrophy and are often reanalysed as anterior constructions. These processes of reanalysis interact with persistence effects. The use of ser + PtcP in the preceding co-texts increases the probability of use of ser + PtcP in the following co-text. These persistence effects gain relevance over time: ser + PtcP is used more conservatively, if ser + PtcP is used in the preceding co-text.

DisciplinRomance Studies
Research DirectionUsage-based linguistics, language change, argument structure, corpus linguistics