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Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Face, Timothy L.

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A Certain Future: Epistemicity, Prediction, and Assertion in Iberian Spanish Future Expression

Jessi E. Aaron
Published Online: 2015-03-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/shll-2014-1166


The choice of future construction in Romance languages with variable expression is complex, and several factors have been shown or hypothesized to influence this choice (e.g. Aaron 2006, 2010 and Poplack & Malvar 2007). One factor stands out time and time again, though scholars do not always associate it with the same form: certainty. Using corpus-based quantitative methods, the role of certainty in Iberian Spanish future form variation is examined. The semantics of futurity and epistemic modality are discussed, with particular reference to the Spanish synthetic, or morphological, future. Then, the onset of non-future-reference use of the Synthetic Future as an epistemic marker is described, and viewed in light of the role of epistemicity in the possible strengthening of the semantics of “certainty” with the Spanish Periphrastic Future. Finally, diachronic evidence from distributional patterns in grammatical person, verb class and clause type is presented, which suggests that speakers associate the periphrastic construction with “certainty” and, increasingly, the synthetic construction with “uncertainty.” It is suggested that functional competition with innovative forms can breathe new life into older forms, sparking further grammaticalization.

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Published Online: 2015-03-20

Published in Print: 2014-09-01

Citation Information: Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, Volume 7, Issue 2, Pages 215–240, ISSN (Online) 2199-3386, ISSN (Print) 1939-0238, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/shll-2014-1166.

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