PhD Research School in Linguistics and Philology

Margrete Dyvik Cardona

Time for Change. A theory-driven, corpus-based study of tense and aspect in La Paz Spanish.

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Initial project description:

"I will study the use of the verb forms el presente, el pretérito indefinido, el pretérito imperfecto, el pretérito perfecto compuesto and el pluscuamperfecto in the spoken and written language of La Paz, Bolivia. I've chosen el presente mainly because that is the form that is used most frequently. Furthermore, there are many different explanations as to why this form is being used in apparently different contexts. I've chosen the two simple preterite forms mainly because it has been debated whether it is their aspectual or their temporal attributes that distinguish them. El pretérito perfecto compuesto is particularly interesting because its content varies between Spanish-speaking countries. It has been registered that that el pluscuamperfecto is rarely used in some Spanish-speaking areas. I will focus on the categories tense and aspect and investigate existing tense theory and the descriptions of the content of the verb forms in order to see whether I can find discrepancies between theory and empirical data. I will emphasize that there is a clear distinction between the inherent meaning of each form and what is deducible from the context. I will also compare the spoken language to the written one, the latter being articles from cultural and current events periodicals. I will examine whether the verb forms are used differently in the written language as opposed to the spoken one, and whether I'm able to derive a general description of each form that would be valid for both of these. Finally I will compare my findings in La Paz with other corpus-based accounts of the use of verb forms in Spanish-speaking countries."

Dyvik Cardona successfully defended her thesis on 19 February 2010.