Evolution of Complex Predicates with Cuenta Expressing Semantic Events of Cognition in Spanish

by Aubrey N Healey

Institution: University of New Mexico
Year: 2017
Keywords: diachronic construction grammar; corpus linguistics; random forests; semantic change; exemplar theory; metaphorization; Comparative and Historical Linguistics; Linguistics
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2154763
Full text PDF: http://digitalrepository.unm.edu/ling_etds/48


This research offers insight into the way linguistic constructions develop new meanings by examining a group of semantically and structurally related form-meaning pairings in Spanish, all of which contain a verb and the word cuenta count/account. Five constructions which now all have cognitive meanings, dar(se) cuenta realize, caer en la cuenta realize, hacer (de) cuenta pretend, tener en cuenta consider, and tomar (en) cuenta consider, are examined from the 1200s to the 1900s. The data come from the Historical Corpus del Espaol (Davies 2002). 5,301 examples of these constructions were coded for factors based on two pilot studies (Healey 2012, 2016) and analyzed using a Random Forests machine-learning algorithm and variable rule analysis. The results indicate that darse cuenta, hacer (de) cuenta, tener en cuenta, and tomar (en) cuenta have followed Traugotts (1989) first tendency of semantic change whereby meanings based in the external world increasingly become based in the speakers internal/mental world. In this case, these four constructions began with more external meanings: dar cuenta give payment, hacer (de) cuenta settle the account/do a count, tener en cuenta have in account, and tomar (en) cuenta take payment/take a count. These four individual constructions have undergone semantic change via metaphorization. On the other hand, the fifth construction being studied, caer en la cuenta, is a case of analogization from darse cuenta. Another conclusion of this research is that a Verb + cuenta exemplar cluster exists in the speakers mind based on the semantic and syntactic relatedness of these constructions. Advisors/Committee Members: Damian Wilson, Christian Koops, Melissa Axelrod, Richard File-Muriel.