Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

The LINGUIST List is dedicated to providing information on language and language analysis, and to providing the discipline of linguistics with the infrastructure necessary to function in the digital world. LINGUIST is a free resource, run by linguistics students and faculty, and supported primarily by your donations. Please support LINGUIST List during the 2016 Fund Drive.

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

Subject: Modern Bibliography: 'ser' vs. 'estar' in Old Spanish
Question: Hello. I'd like to know if you can recommend me some new books or articles about the origin of the difference in verbs ''ser'' and ''estar'' in Spanish. I know that the difference is present also in Portuguese (and ''gallego''), so I think that maybe the roots of this is in a big branch that includes the ''galaico-portugués'' and the ''leonés'' (which I've read is the basis of Spanish - ''castellano''-). According to Ricardo Carballo Calero, Portuguese and Spanish were originated as dialects of ''gallego'' and ''leonés'' respectively, which, in time, were originated from a ''protorromance galaico''. If his hypothesis were true, does it mean that the beginning of our structure ser-estar started in this ''protorromance galaico''? Thank you for your help and sorry for the Spanish words I haven't translated into English (I didn't know how to do it). Roberto García Perú
Reply: Hi, Roberto, I know little about Portuguese (though I can read it). However, one would have to investigate (using big historical corpora) the *Portuguese* history of ser/estar. Any current differences between Spanish and Portuguese uses could well be due to changes *since* the separation of the predecessors of Spanish & Portuguese, in which case we *would* have to go back to what Carballo calls 'galaico' to trace the history of ser & estar. There almost certainly are such differences in some areas between Sp. & Port., but I just don't know if ser/estar is one of them. In the opposite case, where the two languages separated and only later developed their respective differences between ser & estar (which may not be the case), then we would need to trace the history further back, perhaps even taking into consideration the facts of French &/or Italian & possibly other Romance languages (especially Catalán, etc.). Other Panel members know more about Romance than I do, and may be able to answer your question better. Likewise, Wikipedia may have some useful information (although I didn't find much in the Spanish version). You might also try just Googling "ser y estar" or other variants. Good luck. Jim James L. Fidelholtz Graduate Program in Language Sciences Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades Benem'erita Universidad Aut'onoma de Puebla, M'EXICO
Reply From: James L Fidelholtz      click here to access email
 
Date: 12-Jan-2014
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Modern Bibliography: 'ser' vs. 'estar' in Old Spanish    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (12-Jan-2014)

Back to Most Recent Questions