Assessing the Effect of English Contact on Spanish Futurity in 19-century Texas
Since the 13th century, the Spanish periphrastic future (PF; voy a cantar) has been steadily replacing the morphological future (MF; cantaré) (Aaron, 2006). Attempting to account for the especially fast rate of change from the MF to PF in US Spanish, researchers have suggested that contact with English is one of the causes (e.g., Balestra, 2002). Nevertheless, this hypothesis has not been assessed in a balanced way with data from both Spanish and English. The present study documents the use of the Spanish PF and the analogous English construction going to + infinitive in Northern Mexico/Texas during the years 1822–1836, the first period of intense contact between these languages in the region. A crosslinguistic comparison of these future constructions was completed in order to determine their degree of susceptibility to contact-induced change through linguistic convergence. Serving as a case study, the future expression of the advanced bilingual Stephen F. Austin was also examined. The results do not suggest that the Spanish PF accelerated specifically due to contact with English during this period. I discuss this conclusion in the context of recent work on Spanish futurity in the US and outline important considerations for future research on this topic.
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