Edited by Silvia Gumiel-Molina and Isabel Pérez-Jiménez
[Spanish in Context 20:2] 2023
► pp. 367–388
The Spanish copula verb estar is currently taking part in two of the most well-known paths of semantic change across different dialectal varieties of Spanish: (a) as a main copula verb, in its encroachment on the domain of ser, and (b) as the auxiliary in the Present Progressive marker, as it encroaches in the domain of the Simple Present form (i.e., Sánchez-Alonso 2018; Fuchs 2020). Here we argue for the hypothesis that estar’s participation in both paths of change is not coincidental. Focusing on the copular use, we present arguments for the proposal that estar’s encroachment is connected to its lexico-conceptual structure, which, under specific communicative pressures, is afforded greater conversational informativity, thus systematically expanding its licensing contexts and, as a result, bolstering its use. Evidence consistent with this analysis emerges from use variation for estar across several dialects of Spanish, both in its copular and auxiliary uses.