‘Past of the past’ – data for the history of Portuguese pluperfect
In contemporary Portuguese the use of the simple pluperfect is quite limited, and it is usually described as being confined to more formal styles. But the analysis of extant written records from earlier periods seems to show a more frequent and less restricted use of this verb form, and also that it could express, in different contexts, not only temporal but also modal values. Following previous research (e.g. Brocardo 2010), it is my purpose to contribute to a diachronic approach of the Portuguese pluperfect, evidencing the various types of linguistic change that affected this verb form. In this paper I analyse data from the 13th to the 16th centuries that attest both the temporal and modal readings of the simple pluperfect, as well as the competition between the simple and compound verb forms. Aiming at a more broad approach of the diachronic processes affecting verb forms and constructions, I try to compare the evolutions of the pluperfect and perfect (‘pretérito perfeito’), emphasizing the similarities and divergences that can be observed. Within this comparison I discuss the following topics: competition of simple and compound verb forms, including inherited compound forms (with ser, ‘be’), and innovative compound forms that were the result of the grammaticalization of verbal periphrases (with haver/ter, ‘have’); the obsolescence of (modal) meaning of the simple pluperfect and partial obsolescence of this verb form, in contrast with the continuity of the simple perfect and the emergence of innovative values of the compound perfect (‘pretérito perfeito composto’).
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