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The generalization of preposition <i>para </i>via fusion and ensuing loss of compositionality

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Abstract

This study traces two shifts in the distribution of the Spanish preposition <i>para </i>&#8216;for, in order to&#8217;: first, a drop in its allative uses and second, its replacement of the older preposition <i>por </i>&#8216;for&#8217; with purposive infinitives. These distributional changes of the innovative <i>para</i>&#8212;across its own contexts of occurrence as well as in its variation with the older <i>por</i>&#8212;demonstrate the crosslinguistic allative-to-purposive grammaticalization path. Frequent co-occurrence of the source elements, <i>por </i>and <i>a</i>, foments their coalescence, reflected in changes in the orthographic/phonological form of the fused preposition as it loses structural analyzability. Semantic compositionality, whereby there was a discernable semantic contribution of the allative <i>a </i>component, is also lost as early prepositional<i> </i>objects designating persons decline. We find this account of the rise of <i>para,</i> based on gradual loss of analyzability and compositionality, to be more compatible with the quantitative patterns and insightful than an opaque and implicitly abrupt notion of reanalysis.

References

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