Abstract: Jason Doroga

Paradigmatic uniformity and leveling in the present perfect in US Spanish
Centre College

Paradigmatic leveling is an important type of morphological change, and this type of analogical change has been used to explain historical changes in the evolution of Spanish (cf. Rini 1999, Penny 2006, Fertig 2013). The goal of this talk is twofold: in the first part, I provide empirical data that show that for some speakers of US Spanish, the auxiliary verb for the first-person singular form of the present perfect is ha rather than the standard form he. This is illustrated in examples (1) and (2).

  • (1) Yo ha vivido in los EEUU toda mi vida. (extracted from Davies Corpus)
  • (2) Yo ha tenido la oportunidad de conocer otros lugares de México y el extranjero. (extracted from Davies Corpus)

This is an example of partial paradigmatic leveling because this change does not affect the 1st person plural form of haber which remains hemos. The complete paradigm for haber in this dialect is thus represented:

1 singular yo ha 1 plural nosotros hemos
2 singular has
3 singular él/ella/Ud. ha 3 plural ellos/ellas/Uds. han

The second part of the talk discusses the motivation and the consequences of this partial leveling of the paradigm. The paper suggests that the leveling that we see in the singular forms of haber is motivated by the principle of paradigm uniformity or paradigm coherence (Kiparsky 1992, McCarthy 2005).

I show an unexpected consequence in the paradigm as a result of this partial leveling. Crucially, in the 1st personal singular the subject and the auxiliary fuse together to form the single unit yo ha. This fusion of subject + AUXILIARY is limited to the 1st person singular form. The mandatory expression of the subject attested by the fused form yo ha represents an innovation in subject pronoun expression in this variety of Spanish, I argue, is the result of partial leveling of the auxiliary paradigm.