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Syntactic and Pragmatic Usage of the [estar + Adjective] Construction in Puerto Rican Spanish: ¡Está brutal!
Esther L. Brown and Mayra Cortés-Torres
61-74 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This present work examines 2566 instances of [copula + adjective] variation in conversational Puerto Rican Spanish from a usage-based perspective. Through regression analyses we identify the (extra)linguistic factors that significantly favor estar over ser with predicate adjectives. Cases of [estar + adjective] in our data (N=116) not predicted by this model were labeled 'pragmatic' (or innovative). We argue that [estar + adjective] is a construction with a separate meaning ascribed to it through repeated patterns of use in discourse. We identify four clusters of semantically related adjectives that account for 95% of the instances with a pragmatic function. We claim that speaker's choice of estar in these cases reflects his/her accumulated experience with the use of the construction and productive uses reflect analogical extensions to central category members of the clusters (Bybee and Eddington 2006).

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