Grammaticalization degrees in Catalan anar vs. estar + adjective in the 19th and 20th centuries: a language contact, corpus-based distributional approach

Gandarillas, Marc
The present study constitutes an exploratory analysis of the use of the Catalan constructions anar ('to go') + adjective and estar ('to be') + adjective in writing during the 19th and 20th centuries. In modern Catalan, anar and estar can be used before an adjective as copulas, with an identical or similar meaning (e. g. , en Joan va begut, en Joan està begut 'John is drunk'). Both constructions show evidence of being highly grammaticalized and are apparently found in free variation rather than complementary distribution. However, a closer approach seems to reveal certain underlying linguistic factors that might be informing such contrast, specifically within the semantic-pragmatic sphere. This is here explored using the narrow theory of grammaticalization (Hopper & Traugott 2003), a multistage process by which lexical (i. e. , contextual) items eventually become functional (i. e. , grammatical) over time. A corpus-based search was conducted using the electronic version of the Corpus Textual Informatitzat de la Llengua Catalana (CTILC), which comprises literary and non-literary texts published between 1833 and 1988. Anar + adjective and estar + adjective tokens were obtained from a sample of texts, then sorted into four different groups corresponding to century halves. The search results from the corpus were randomly sorted in terms of genre and date and, from these, the top 250 tokens on the list of results for each construction were selected and subsequently analyzed. Whereas few instances of both constructions are found overall in the first half of the 19th century, estar already prevails over anar when followed by an adjective. During the first half of the 20th century, however, this trend starts to be reversed. This suggests the possibility that anar and estar might have traditionally been found in free variation in a number of contexts, with 19th century texts showing a clear preference for estar ​
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