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Indefinite past reference and the Present Perfect in Argentinian Spanish

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The last decade has witnessed a flurry of research into variation in the use of the Pretérito Perfecto Compuesto (PPC) and the Pretérito Perfecto Simple (PPS). Researchers have posited a resemblance between the Argentinian (ARG) and the Mexican PPC in its encoding of durative past situations extending into the present. Close inspection of 30 hours of talk-in-interaction data with 68 speakers of Argentinian River Plate Spanish provides no support for these claims. Instead, in this paper I argue that the vernacular ARG PPC is specialising to encode indefinite past. The past-referring character of the ARG PPC is visible in the discontinuity between the situation encoded by the PPC and the present. The ARG PPC’s specialised function of indefinite past temporal marking and its similarity to Chinese aspectual marker -guo pose an interesting case of functional parallelism across typologically unrelated languages.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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