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How sentence type influences the interpretation of Spanish future constructions

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

It is well known that Spanish futurizing morphology is frequently used not to express futurity, but instead to formulate a hypothesis, i.e. express epistemic modality. Although this is possible with both synthetic or periphrastic future marking, the synthetic future tense is more likely to express an epistemic reading than the periphrastic future. This paper explores the relationship between futurizing morphology and sentence type on the basis of a quantitative analysis of about n = 2,700 tokens of synthetic and periphrastic ‘future’ constructions in spoken conversations from Madrid, Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile. On the basis of a bottom-up classification of these tokens regarding their potential to express modal meanings, we demonstrate that polar and partial futurizing interrogatives are more likely to display modal meanings and associated rhetorical effects than futurizing declaratives. This effect is even stronger for synthetic future constructions, due to a conventionalization of specific form-function pairings. Finally, we also document substantial dialectal variation in the use of futurizing morphology.
Journal: Functions of Language
ISSN: 0929-998X
Issue: 1
Volume: 29
Pages: 116 - 141
Publication year:2022