A usage-based approach to inflected infinitives: a contrastive analysis of Galician and Portuguese
University of Colorado, Boulder
Infinitives are generally included within the category of non-finite forms and, as such, they lack agreement morphology and Tense-Aspect-Mood variation. Additionally, they usually occur with a null subject or, if expressed, with a non-nominative subject. However, although typologically unusual, some languages also display inflected infinitives, i.e., infinitives that take different endings according to their subject grammatical person and number. Additionally, these inflected infinitives may occur with a subject in the nominative case. Within Romance languages, inflected infinitives are found in Galician, Mirandese, Portuguese and Sardinian. Of all these languages, Portuguese is by far the one that has received most attention in the literature regarding this phenomenon with studies being carried out from very different theoretical perspectives: generativist grammar (e.g., Raposo 1987), relational grammar (e.g., Scida 2004), cognitive grammar (e.g., Soares 2008) and usage-based grammar (e.g., Vanderschueren 2013). In comparison, there is a much more reduced number of studies focusing on Galician inflected infinitives (García Gondar 1978, Asaka 1984, Longa 1999, Vanderschueren and Jansegers 2010, Vázquez Diéguez 2012, Brown and Rivas 2019, Sheehan, Schäfer and Parafita Couto 2019).
The purpose of this presentation is twofold: Using variationist methodology (Labov 1994, Walker 2010, Tagliamonte 2012), we will be concerned with identifying the probabilistic grammar of the Galician inflected infinitive by studying its recurrent usage patterns in oral Galician data taken from Corpus Informatizado da Lingua Galega (Instituto da Lingua Galega). Our focus of study will be adverbial clauses, which is the context in which inflected infinitives are more common in this language, according to previous corpus-based studies. The results of this analysis will allow us to provide a contrastive analysis between Galician and Portuguese taking into account the findings provided by previous empirical studies of inflected infinitives in this language (Schulte 2007, 2018; Vanderschueren 2013; Vanderschueren & Diependale 2013; Vanderschueren and De Cuypere 2014). Through our analysis of Galician inflected infinitives from a new perspective (using naturally occurring data and variationist methodology) and our contrastive analysis with Portuguese, we will provide new insights on inflected infinitives that contribute to our knowledge of this cross-linguistically unusual construction.