Edited by Jorge Fernández Jaén and Herminia Provencio Garrigós
[IVITRA Research in Linguistics and Literature 25] 2020
► pp. 196–220
Something seems to have changed
Diachronic evidence for the semantic shift of parecer + infinitive
This paper examines the claim that when a full verb is grammaticalized and becomes an auxiliary it is subjected to a process of desemanticization or semantic bleaching. For this matter, the Spanish periphrasis parecer + infinitive (‘to seem’) is analysed on the basis of the three semantic-pragmatic tendencies proposed by Traugott (1989). It is shown how in the course of time the original meaning of physical appearance of the periphrasis developed into the current epistemic and evidential meaning, shifting from a concrete to a more abstract meaning. The semantic shift, so it is argued, does not involve a loss of meaning but constitutes a case of generalization, allowing for the use of the periphrasis with all six grammatical persons.