-ra/-se Variation in Spain from Early Castilian to Modern Spanish: A Diachronic Multifactorial Analysis



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The Spanish imperfect subjunctive and pluperfect subjunctive verb tenses have two competing forms –ra and –se which vary in frequency of use according to the country of usage, the dominant political power, the century in question and context. These two forms of the imperfect subjunctive and pluperfect subjunctive have their origin in two different verb tenses in Latin, namely the pluperfect indicative (amaveram Latin, amara Spanish) and pluperfect subjunctive (amavissem Latin, amase Spanish). This present study of peninsular Spanish is a diachronic examination of the hypothesis that the –se form has gradually decreased in use while its opposing form has gradually increased in use resulting in a linguistic shift from –se to –ra forms. Special consideration will be given to contextual variables significantly contributing to the selection of –ra or –se forms. Under examination is the placement of the verb within the protasis or apodosis of the sentence (the if or then clause) or other hypothetical clauses in order to analyze the degree to which the reality vs. the probable/hypothetical nature of an action affects the verb choice. Other variables considered are the verb form (whether periphrastic or non-periphrastic), pluperfect subjunctive vs. imperfect subjunctive, and the placement in a dependent clause vs. independent clause. Themes investigated include the horror aequi principle and the role of free vs. systematic variation in the selection of verb form. The influence of the authors on data contributed as well as the century in question is also examined. The variables are quantified and a thorough analysis of the data is conducted using the fairly recent advanced statistical technique of generalized linear mixed modeling. A review of the related literature, the analysis of data samples, historic linguistic trends and associations identified based on the data in the –se/-ra variation will be presented.



Spanish language, Castilian, Historical linguistics, Sociolinguistics, –se to –ra forms, Linguistics, Spain, Peninsular, Language variation, Language change, Imperfect subjunctive, Pluperfect subjunctive, Quantitative, Multifactorial, Statistics, Modeling, Generalized linear mixed model


Portions of this document appear in: Hanna, Catherine. "Estudio Diacrónico Preliminar de la Variación –se/-ra en España." Plaza: Dialogues in Language and Literature [Online], 2.2 (2012): 99-104. Web. 19 Dec. 2016