Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

The distribution and licensing of –ra in Eonavian Spanish: a nanosyntactic analysis

Natalia Jardón Pérez


The imperfect subjunctive form –ra found in the variety of Spanish spoken between the Eo and Navia rivers in Asturias, has not only the modal value observed in Standard Peninsular Spanish (Ojalá lloviera ‘I wish it rained’), but it may also carry temporal values such as pluperfect (Cuando llegué yo, Ana ya saliera ‘by the time I arrived, Ana had already left’) and simple past ( (Las flores) me las regalara mi abuela ‘(the flowers) my grandmother gave them to me’). This paper offers a (tentative) formal analysis of the licensing conditions of –ra in affirmative contexts in this variety, using the nanosyntactic apparatus (Starke 2005). The hypothesis based on features is presented in combination with Ojea’s (2005) work on asertiveness and mood selection: two main factors, one syntactic (subordination) and one semantic (level of assertiveness), are examined to identify the number and order of features, as well as their semantic value (modal, pluperfect, and deictic). Evidence from spontaneous speech as well as data from an online survey completed by 45 Eonavians conform the empirical basis of the study. The analysis predicts that the difference between Standard and Eonavian Spanish follows from the number of features that –ra lexicalizes in each variety, as illustrated in concrete examples.

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