Volume 50, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0035-3906
  • E-ISSN: 1600-0811
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The discourse marker cachái (‘y’see?’) has in a rather short time span become one of the most frequently used in colloquial Chilean Spanish, especially in the talk of young speakers. Being a recent addition to the language, it is not surprising that the history and use of the marker remain in large part to be described. The etymology which is commonly presented (Real Academia Española, 2014, s.v. cachar), according to which cachar is a loan of the English verb catch, is problematic as it fails to account for the uses attested for cachái in modern Chilean Spanish. The present study adopts a historical pragmatic perspective to track the development of the verb, proposing an alternative origin, namely in the verb catar (‘look (for)’, ‘see’). By contrasting this explanation with authentic, situated, uses of cachái, the study argues that such an origin can account for the uses we see today more adequately and convincingly.


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