Synchronic evidence of a diachronic process: the grammaticalization of TENERE in Romance
Giulia Mazzola, Sara Sánchez de Molina-Santos, Luana Sorgini
(Leiden University & Università Ca' Foscari Venezia
Saturday (April 22nd), 14:15-15:15 (Poster presentation round)
Lipsius Hall

It has been observed that TENERE ‘to hold’ has substituted HABERE ‘to have’ as an auxiliary marker expressing tense, aspect or modality in Portuguese (Harre, 1991). Other Romance languages show TENERE in similar contexts. Based on this evidence, we presuppose that different Romance varieties would show synchronic stages of a diachronic process of grammaticalization.

Our study is a cross-linguistic comparative analysis of structures with TENERE, based on 11 Romance varieties. We have observed that two different grammaticalization clines are at work. Both originate from the lexical possessive source and their outcomes are expressed by two verbal periphrases: deontic construction (TENERE+ particle+ infinitive) and tense marker (TENERE+ past participle).

As for the latter, the data show that contentive and formal changes do not follow parallel paths, in line with previous grammaticalization studies (Hengeveld forthc., Hopper and Traugott 2003). In fact, both the anterior and hodiernal meanings take the form of an auxiliary verb followed by a past participle. Moreover, different varieties lay on different stages of the cline represented below, with Standard Italian, French and Romanian showing just stage 0, and Portuguese and Galician exhibiting stages III and IV. The diachronic path reflected by the synchronic data is represented below:

Stage 0: Lexical. Content: “to hold”;
Stage I: Lexical; possessive meaning; [VPTENERE [NP]];
Stage II: Aspectual marker; resultative; [VPTENERE [AP NP PartP]];
Stage III: Relative tense marker; anterior; [VPTENERE PartP([NP])];
Stage IV: Absolute tense marker; recent past; [VPTENERE PartP([NP])];

In conclusion, the synchronic data collected from our language sample show that different languages display synchronic stages of the diachronic development of TENERE as a marker of aspect or tense, although there is no geographical continuum.