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Variation and grammaticisation

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Abstract

Using multivariate analysis, this study tracks the configuration of factors conditioning variation between the Spanish Progressive (<i>estar</i> &#8220;to be (located)&#8221; + Gerund (Verb-<i>ndo</i>)) and the simple Present, in 15th, 17th and 19th century data. While the direction of effect remains stable, change is manifested in shifts in magnitude of effect. The Progressive begins as a locative construction with a presentative function, as shown by strong early effects of co-occurring locatives and postverbal full NP subjects. Over time locative meaning weakens and aspectual meaning, which is an implication of the locative construction, strengthens. The aspectual opposition between the Progressive and simple Present then extends to stative predicates. Thus, the changing relative magnitude of effect of the factor groups in the multivariate analyses shows the gradual emergence of the progressive-nonprogressive opposition. In grammaticisation, new constructions gradually evolve from patterns of variation, in the course of speakers&#8217; recurrent choices in discourse.

References

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