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Thursday, October 10 • 2:30pm - 2:55pm
Grammon: Form, function, social action: Revisiting variable concord with Spanish haber

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Form, function, social action: Revisiting variable concord with Spanish haber

This presentation connects discourse pragmatics to one of the most debated morphosyntactic variables in Spanish: variable verbal concord with presentational haber. 560 observations were submitted to mixed effects modeling, representing monolingual ‘educated speech’ from five South American cities. The best fitting model included structural priming, specificity, and topicality as significant predictors; among structurally-unprimed tokens, verbal concord is especially likely when haber presents a referent that is both uniquely identifiable to speakers and accessible (i.e. topical) within the discourse context. I argue that these results point to a discourse-pragmatic motivation for the patterning of variable concord with Spanish haber. That is, plural and singular variants aid interlocutors in distinguishing central and peripheral participants in discourse as shaped by the temporary state of speakers’ minds and structural flow of information. These findings advance our understanding of morphosyntactic variation as a repertoire of discourse strategies that are part and parcel of social action.


Devin Grammon

University of Oregon

Thursday October 10, 2019 2:30pm - 2:55pm PDT
EMU Crater Lake N
  T: Discourse/pragmatics
  • Session type Talk
  • Chair: Mokaya Bosire