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Academic Paper

Title: Variationist sociolinguistics and cognitive construction grammar. A case-study of the variable agreement of presentational haber in Dominican Spanish.
Paper URL:
Author: Jeroen Claes
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Universiteit Antwerpen
Linguistic Field: Cognitive Science; Sociolinguistics; Syntax
Abstract: Drawing upon Cognitive Construction Grammar (Goldberg, 1995, 2006), I present an analysis of the pluralization of haber in Dominican Spanish (e.g. Habían fiestas ‘There were parties’) as an ongoing language change from below during which the canonical argument-structure construction ([Loc] haber [Obj]) is being replaced by an innovative schema ([Loc] haber [Subj]). While doing so, I propose a way in which the social and stylistic meanings that are coded in the distributions of otherwise ‘meaningless variations’ can be modeled in this theoretic framework and I argue that the two variants of the presentational construction with haber differ in regards to such connotations. Using a mixed effect multivariate analysis, I show that speakers pluralize presentational haber in about 47% of the cases and that the results for the factor groups empathy hierarchy (Langacker, 1991), degree of entrenchment of the verb-form in PRES-1, priming, gender, social class and style support the main claim. In addition, I show that the linguistic predictors can be traced back to three general principles (production priming, statistical preemption and the preference for unmarked coding) that constrain any form of linguistic encoding.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Venue: Poster delivered at: New Ways of Analyzing Syntactic Variation Workshop, Nijmegen, Universiteit Nijmegen, November 2012
Publication Info: MS

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