Volume 33, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714
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This paper analyzes the mechanisms of syntactic and semantic change involved in the development of the degree modifier “a bit, a little” in Spanish from an indefinite pronoun with inanimate reference meaning “something”. Specifically, it focuses on the distribution of the pronoun in the Medieval and Classical periods of Spanish and its interpretation in partitive and pseudo-partitive constructions. I argue for combination of structural and pragmatic factors in the creation of the degree modifier and relate this change to other diachronic developments of indefinites across languages. I also discuss implications for models of the distribution of degree modifiers crosslinguistically.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): degree adverbs; gradability; indefinite pronouns; semantic change; Spanish; syntactic change
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