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¿Qué dijistes?: A Variationist Reanalysis of Non-standard -s on Second Person Singular Preterit Verb Forms in Spanish
Sonia Barnes
38-47 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The present study examines the addition of final /s/ to second person singular preterit verb forms in Spanish, as in dijistes, fuistes and cantastes, which coexist with the standard form of the conjugation ending in -iste or -aste. Previous studies have attributed the existence of this variant to the analogical extension of the final /-s/ of second-person-singular forms present in other paradigms (Alcoba 1999, Penny 2002); however, there has been no empirical research exploring the distribution of the two variants in Spanish. The goal of this paper is to examine the constraints that govern the choice between the two variants. The data for this study were extracted from several Spanish corpora and analyzed following the sociolinguistic variationist method (Tagliamonte 2006). The GoldVarb results reveal that the addition of final /-s/ is favored in low frequency forms and disfavored in high frequency ones. Previous research has shown that low frequency words are more susceptible to analysis on the part of the speaker and prone to change based on the influence of other forms (Phillips 2001, 2006; Bybee 2002). The results of the statistical analysis support this hypothesis and point to the addition of /-s/ to second singular preterit forms as an analogical extension based on the most productive marking of second person singular. The analysis also reveals that a following vowel favors the addition of /-s/ on second singular preterit verb forms, whereas pre-consonantal and pre-pausal contexts disfavor the /-s/ marked variant, in accordance to resyllabification preferences in Spanish (Face 2002, Harris 1983, Hualde 1991a, 1991b). This study provides quantitative evidence that the choice of the /-s/ marked variant is not random and offers empirical evidence in support of a model in which frequency of use determines the direction of phonological and morphological processes.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 14th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Kimberly Geeslin and Manuel Díaz-Campos
Table of contents
Printed edition: $295.00