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Bookmark and Share Paper 1760

Variable Constraints on Past Reference in Dialects of Spanish
Chad Howe and Scott A. Schwenter
100-108 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The purpose of this paper is to provide a variationist analysis of past reference in the Spanish of Lima, Perú, specifically concerning the distribution of the Present Perfect (PP) and the Preterit(e). It has been observed that the use of these two forms varies across dialects (e.g. Alonso and Henríquez Ureña 1951) and, moreover, that the PP in some varieties, particularly in Peninsular dialects, has begun to display considerable semantic overlap with the Preterit (Harris 1982, Fleischman 1983, Schwenter 1994, among others). The objective is to provide quantitative evidence from naturally-occurring speech data that purported patterns of PP/Preterite overlap in certain varieties of South American Spanish are distinct from the trends noted in the case of Peninsular Spanish (cf. Kany 1945, Westmoreland 1988, López Morales 1996, Penny 2000, among others). Using a sample taken from the Lima Habla Culta corpus (Caravedo 1989), the authors' analysis demonstrates that the internal linguistic constraints governing the distribution of the PP and the Preterit in the Lima data are distinct from those noted previously for other dialects (cf. Schwenter and Torres Cacoullos 2008). Finally, the authors further argue that discerning distinct trends in semantic change in this case requires a multi-faceted methodological approach that does not rely exclusively on any particular typology of perfect types (cf. Comrie 1976).

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics
edited by Maurice Westmoreland and Juan Antonio Thomas
Table of contents
Printed edition: $190.00