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Cognitive Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Divjak, Dagmar

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Volume 26, Issue 1


Competing constructions: The pluralization of presentational haber in Dominican Spanish

Jeroen Claes
Published Online: 2014-12-24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2014-0006


Drawing on Cognitive Construction Grammar (CCxG), 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 singular argument-structure construction (<AdvP haber Obj>) is being replaced by a pluralized schema (<AdvP haber Subj>). Using a mixed-effects regression analysis, in which the individual speakers and the NPs' head nouns were included as random intercepts, I show that speakers pluralize presentational haber in 47% of the cases and that the variation is conditioned by three general cognitive constraints (markedness of coding, structural priming, and statistical pre-emption). Using a conditional inference tree, I show that the former two cognitive constraints work in tandem to promote the pluralized construction for the encoding of conceptualizations that statistical preemption tends to reserve to the singular construction. The results also unveil that the variation is associated with social class membership. These data confirm the main hypothesis, while at the same time corroborating and strengthening the conclusions of an earlier investigation of haber pluralization in Puerto Rican Spanish.

Keywords: Cognitive Construction Grammar; variationist sociolinguistics; Dominican Spanish; pluralization of haber

About the article

Received: 2014-04-24

Revised: 2014-07-09

Accepted: 2014-07-16

Published Online: 2014-12-24

Published in Print: 2015-02-01

Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics, Volume 26, Issue 1, Pages 1–30, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2014-0006.

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