Detours along the perfect path

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The development of periphrastic past constructions in Romance, including those that do not take a reflex of Latin <sc>hab&#274;re</sc> as an auxiliary, has been analyzed along a continuum from a resultative construction to a perfect, and in some cases to a perfective (see Harris 1982; Fleischman 1983). This paper argues that the development of the <i>Pret&#233;rito Perfeito</i> Composto (PPC) in Portuguese does not adhere to the proposed typologies of periphrastic past evolution in Romance. Using diachronic corpus data, we revisit the proposed <i>resultative > perfect</i> grammaticalization path (see Bybee et al. 1994) and contend that the developmental trajectory of the Portuguese PPC is distinct from other cases of periphrastic past evolution in Romance languages, specifically Spanish. We demonstrate that the iterative meaning unique to the PPC in contemporary Portuguese arises in morphosyntactically ambiguous contexts in which the <i>ter</i> + Past Participle construction co-occurs with semantically plural complements.


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