The rise and fall of a change from below in Early Modern Spanish
The periphrasis deber de + infinitive in texts of linguistic immediacy
This article deals with the patterns of variation and change undergone by a syntactic variable in Early Modern Spanish grammar, namely the alternation between deber ‘have to, must, should’ and deber de + infinitive ‘have to, must, should’ as a modal periphrasis. Based on a 1,500,000-word corpus of immediacy texts (private letters, memories) the results of this variationist study suggest that throughout the 16th century, but more especially during its second half, the prepositional periphrasis gradually became more common, above all in stylistic contexts predominated by the spontaneity and proximity of the relationships between the interlocutors. It was also more frequently found in contexts involving members of northern speech communities, particularly males, the young and the middle-low social strata, the incidence being especially high at the points where some of these groups intersect. All this suggests a change from below in the Golden Age period, which reached considerable dimensions in a relatively short time but was destined to stagnate and later decline just as quickly in the centuries that followed as a result of some structural features, such as the special “visibility” of the preposition, which could have led to the stigmatization of the periphrasis in a similar way to what happened in other Spanish syntactic phenomena.
- 2.Norms and uses of deber (de) + infinitive: Between the free variation and “confusion”
- 3.1Theoretical and methodological issues in a historical sociolinguistic study
- 3.2The corpus: Texts of linguistic immediacy for the study of linguistic variation in Early Modern Spanish
- 3.3Objectives and methodology
- Results and analysis
- 4.1General results and historical evolution of the variable in Early Modern Spanish
- 4.2Regional distribution
- 4.3The stylistic axis of the variability
- 4.4Social factors
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