On the status of Concordantia Temporum in Spanish: An experimental approach
Subjunctive clauses in Spanish are traditionally claimed to obey Concordantia Temporum (CT), an agreement in tense between the matrix and subjunctive clauses. Treating this phenomenon literally as agreement is problematic, so an analysis in which CT falls out from general principles of tense interpretation, as in Laca (2010a), is very attractive. Nevertheless, this analysis seems to make some prima facie incorrect predictions. Here we test these predictions by means of a large-scale, formal sentence acceptability experiment in three countries. We show that despite superficial appearances, speakers do allow “violations” of CT (specifically, a present subjunctive clause embedded under a matrix present clause) in exactly the environment that Laca’s analysis predicts: when the context allows for a double access reading (DAR). We also find, however, that a subset of speakers also allows these violations in environments where the DAR interpretation is not possible. This finding is not predicted by Laca’s analysis, but it can be accommodated within it by positing that for those speakers, the present subjunctive form is actually unspecified for tense, a claim for which we provide independent evidence. Overall, our experimental results lend support to an analysis like Laca’s and suggest that CT can be eliminated as a separate mechanism of the grammar.
Source at http://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.749.