Current trends in analyzing syntactic variation
  • ISSN 0774-5141
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9676
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In this paper, I examine whether the variation patterns of pluralization (e.g., ‘there was/were parties’) in Peninsular Spanish corroborate the hypothesis elaborated in earlier work that the phenomenon constitutes a competition between two variants of the presentational construction with that is constrained by domain-general cognitive constraints on spreading activation. In addition, this paper examines whether pluralization is incrementing in frequency in particular Peninsular regions and whether or not the phenomenon is spreading geographically. To meet these objectives, I analyze a dataset of more than 7,500 cases of  + plural NP, which were culled from two publicly available data sources: the (which represents only rural speakers born before the 1940s; Fernández-Ordóñez 2005- ) and (which represents mainly young and middle-aged speakers). The results of a mixed-effects logistic regression analysis that tests the effects of tense, the absence/presence of negation, typical action-chain position of the noun, the regional origin of the examples, and the data sources support the competition hypothesis. This model also supports that pluralized is spreading westward from its epicenters (Valencia, Barcelona, and Murcia), while also incrementing in frequency in northern, eastern and southern Spain. However, its frequency appears to be declining in central Spain. A geographically more detailed, but similar picture is obtained with three generalized additive mixed models that test the effects of geography on the total dataset as well as on each of the two subcorpora.


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