, Volume 91, Issue 1, pp 51-61
Date: 06 Feb 2007

The Spanish Progressive Construction and its Latin Source

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Abstract

This article analyzes the origins of the progressive construction: estar + -ndo. Traditional accounts suggest that this verbal structure, which is found in Spanish and other Romance languages, evolved directly from the Latin Ablative gerund. Data from historical texts, however, indicate that the Latin gerundive – an adjectival form phonologically and morphologically similar to the gerund – is the correct source of the progressive construction. Using a generative framework, this article argues that the gerundive was reanalyzed as a non-finite verb. Furthermore, this syntactic reanalysis was facilitated by the identical position of subjects and predicates in constructions containing a raising verb or an auxiliary verb.