Preterit Expansion and Perfect Demise in Porteño Spanish and Beyond

A Critical Perspective on Cognitive Grammaticalization Theory


In Preterit Expansion and Perfect Demise in Porteño Spanish and Beyond, Guro Nore Fløgstad offers an original account of the way in which the Preterit category has expanded, at the expense of the Perfect, in Porteño Spanish – a variety spoken in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Through primary sources and a large cross-linguistic sample, Fløgstad convincingly shows that the expansion of a Preterit is not rare in the languages of the world. This finding challenges the prevailing view in historical morphosyntax, and especially in usage-based grammaticalization theory, namely the alleged preference for analytic over synthetic forms, and the possibility of prediction based on the source meaning in grammaticalization.

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Guro Nore Fløgstad, Ph.D. (2015, University of Oslo) is a researcher at The Center for Multilingualism in Society Across the Lifespan (MultiLing) at The University of Oslo. She has published both academically and for the general public, and conducts research on directionality and morphosyntactic change, with focus on Romance and Romani.

List of figures
List of tables
Abbreviations used in glosses

1 Introduction
1.1 Competing categories
1.2 A model for the expansion of the Preterit

2 Theoretical background
2.1 Diachrony and usage-based linguistics
2.2 Tense and aspect: General

3 Porteño Spanish: Background and previous research
3.1 Sociolinguistic context
3.2 Sociohistorical context
3.3 The Porteño Spanish variety

4 Source determination, diachronic regularity, and the development of perfects
4.1 Source determination and the development of perfects
4.2 The diachronic development of perfects
4.3 Accounts for developments of past/past perfective
4.4 Summary

5 Method
5.1 General
5.2 Method and semantic and grammatical change
5.3 The choice of method
5.4 Factors and variables
5.5 Creating a corpus: Oral data/interviews

6 Results
6.1 Overview
6.2 The general decrease in the Preterit to express past with CR
6.3 Perfects and Preterits in age group I
6.4 Perfects and Preterits in age group II
6.5 Synchrony: Tense and aspect in present-day Porteño Spanish
6.6 Uruguayan sources
6.7 HABCULT interviews
6.8 Secondary written source: Introductory texts
6.9 Summary of results

7 Subfunction variation as the source of the expansion of the Preterit
7.1 General
7.2 What has happened to the Porteño Spanish Preterit?
7.3 Creating a model for the Preterit’s expansion
7.4 How is the CR reading arrived at? The creation of the subfunction variation
7.5 The “why”: Pragmatic motivations
7.6 Subfunction variation as the key to understanding the Preterit’s expansion
7.7 The end result: The unstable Perfect
7.8 Contact? A note on the further spread and its causes

8 Synthesis
8.1 Results: Empirical findings
8.2 Cross-linguistic considerations
8.3 Theoretical remarks


All interested in morphology, historical linguistics, the development of Perfects and Preterits in the languages of the world, especially those concerned with Romance languages, as well as anyone concerned with cognitive and usage-based approaches to language change, grammaticalization, and directionality.

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