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Double use of preterite in LA Spanish

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Beachxhair, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    Hi

    In Latin American Spanish, the preterite is sometimes used where Peninsular Spanish would use the present perfect. Ralph Penny commented that is similar to the Latin perfect, which was also used in both contexts, where Peninsular Spanish makes the distinction between present perfect and preterite.

    How has the 'double' aspectual usage of the preterite developed in Latin American Spanish?


    Thanks :)
     
  2. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    Hmm, if you're reading Penny then you probably have more information than just about anyone on this board… But the comment about the Latin perfect is strange, since Latin would use the perfect in all contexts where Spanish uses the preterite or the present perfect. Not just in those contexts where Peninsular Spanish and Latin American Spanish diverge.
     
  3. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    I don't understand your question. You first say there is an aspectual difference in Peninsular Spanish that is not found in Latin American Spanish and at the end you ask how the double aspectual use developed in Latin American Spanish.:confused:
     
  4. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I understand the comment so that the erosion of the semantic difference between preterite and perfect takes Latin American Spanish (almost) back to the situation as it existed in classical Latin where where these aspects where conceptually not distinguished, as it also occurred in French and German.
     
  5. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    There may be varieties where the two tenses are not distinguished (or only stylistically) but in general, Latin American Spanish uses the preterite obligatorily in some contexts, and the present perfect obligatorily in other contexts. There is no erosion of the semantic difference.
     
  6. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    I'm sorry if I've caused confusion. I meant how the preterite doubles up as both marker of completed events with no relation to the present, as well as an event whose effects are still perceived to be felt in the present.
     
  7. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Well it depends on what is felt keener - the completenes (or "irreversibility") of the action or its effects in the present.
    (That's how the gradual shift away from passato remoto toward passato prossimo has occurred in both French (largely concluded) & Italian (vacillating from region to region, generation to generation, speaker to speaker, situational context to situational context).)
    So you can ask both
    - ¿Ha pasado Pablo? (more natural in Peninsular Spanish)
    - ¿Pasó Pablo? (more natural in Latin American Spanish)

    Then, there are such factors as
    - regular & irregular forms: if a tense presents too many irregular paradigms, then either it's regularised (Spanish, Portuguese, Southern Italo-Romance idioms) or the users switch to a "functionally related" tense with less irregular forms (French, Central & Eastern Catalan, Sardinian, Northern Italian dialects)
    - euphony, rhythm, "flair", "style" & other connotaions (in French & Italian: varying; to a lesser degree also in Spanish)
    - telling a story rather than singular events, so you can begin a story with: "hoy/ esta mañana me levanté muy temprano".
    However, due to the temporal adverb, you still can begin such a story with the "correct tense" which bears relation to the present and then (maybe with a imperfecto form in between) switch to the narrative tense - that was what they did a century ago in Italy, and then some people didn't switch at all.

    Sorry for the many allusions to other Romance languages, but comparative studies help to understand the way related languages function.
     
  8. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    This is a very complex subject. The use of the pretérito compuesto is not consistent over all Latin American. In some regions it has disappeared almost completely (e.g. large parts of Argentina, Uruguay and Nicaragua), in other parts (e.g. México) it is still used but with a different nuance than in Peninsular Spanish. Also in Peninsular Spanish, there are variations. The pretérito compuesto is almost not used in Asturias an Galicia (allegedly due to the substrate languages that do not know composed tenses). In some regions (some areas in central Spain), there is a tendency of not using the pretérito simple at all and always use the pretérito compuesto.

    Why is that? I don't think anybody knows: just because people started using it that way, I suppose.
     
  9. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    What are some of the nuances of the pretérito compuesto in Latin America?
     
  10. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Belgium
    Dutch - Belgium
    As pointed out before, there is no general "Latin American" way for the pretérito compuesto. In the regions where it isn't used anymore (see previous post), it makes no sense to talk about nuance differences.

    However, we can discuss a little about the Mexican use of the pretérito compuesto in comparison with the standard peninsular use. In pensinsular Spanish, the classical difference between the compuesto and simple is that the compuesto is used when what is described happened in a time interval that is considered to belong to the current time interval. The same is true for the Mexican use, but there is an additional nuance there: the action must continue in the present time interval or at least be possible/probable to repeat.

    Some examples (stolen from another recent thread about the subject:)):

    Spain: Hoy ha llovido: compuesto because "hoy" belongs to the current time interval.
    México: Hoy llovió: today it has rained, it stopped and it won't probably rain again today.
    México: Hoy ha llovido: today it has rained, it is either still raiing or it will probably stiil rain today.

    Going a little further: (example also from a recent thread)

    Spain: ¿Ud ya ha cenado hoy?: compuesto because "hoy" belongs to the current time interval.
    México: ¿Ud ya cenó hoy?: this would be the normal way in México. In this case, the use of the compuesto would be considered strange in México as it is not very likely that the action of "cenar" would be repeated today. The thing would be different if we hadn't used the verb "cenar" but e.g. cantar. There it would be possible to find the compuesto in México because it is possible that one has sung today and will continue doing so or sing again.
     

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