Volume 33, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714
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Studies of grammaticalization have identified a tendency for verbs of possession to develop modal meanings (Bybee et al. 1994, Heine & Kuteva 2002). I present evidence of the mechanisms contributing to both semantic and structural change in one such instance, the Modern Spanish deontic modal construction [+ ] “to have to”. Quantitative analysis of a corpus of written texts confirms that this process is gradual and layered, exhibiting semantic changes measurable in the ratio of lexical infinitive types to total tokens of the constructions changing tendencies in the construction’s internal structure and the presence of highly frequent, lexically particular instances of . This study presents quantifiable manifestations of grammaticalization processes that do not adhere to a linear, uniform cline and are consistently variable, even on a small scale.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Grammaticalization; lexical diffusion; modality; semantic change; Spanish
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