Volume 27, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0213-2028
  • E-ISSN: 2254-6774
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In this article, we investigate the pluralization of presentational haber (e.g., Habían fiestas. ‘There were parties.’) in the Spanish of Havana, Santo Domingo, and San Juan. Drawing on Goldberg’s (1995) Cognitive Construction Grammar, we claim that the phenomenon consists in a language change from below: the pluralized variant of the presentational haber construction (<AdvP haber Subject>) is replacing the impersonal variant (<AdvP haber Object>). Using a mixed-effects regression analysis, we show that speakers of the Caribbean dialects pluralize the verb in 41–46% of the cases. The linguistic factors that were investigated in this study (typical action-chain position of the noun’s referent, clause polarity, verb tense, comprehension-to-production priming and production-to-production priming) argue in favor of considering the variation an argument-structure alternation. The comparative sociolinguistic analyses reveal that these factors have the same effects and relative strengths in the three communities. For the three communities, the results for gender and social class support that the phenomenon constitutes an advanced language change from below.


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