Sociolinguistic Studies, Vol 9, No 4 (2015)

The use of Catalan verbal periphrases haver de and tenir que on Twitter

Craig R. Stokes


The present study investigates the use of a standard Catalan deontic modal construction haver de + infinitive ‘to have to’ and the nonstandard variant tenir que + infinitive ‘to have to’ in Twitter entries originating from eight cities, representing different Catalan dialects. Although the nonstandard form has been labeled in the literature as a calque of Spanish tener que + infinitive ‘to have to’, it appears in Twitter messages in all of the dialects analyzed. In fact, in our sample there are dialects in which tenir que occurs more frequently than haver de. Grammatical person of the verb used (haver or tenir) is also analyzed as a factor behind the choice of modal periphrasis. Multivariate analysis has been employed, determining that both of these factors (dialect and grammatical person) are statistically significant. The results of the multivariate analysis allow us to apply van Coetsem’s (1988) theoretical framework in an attempt to describe the language contact situation in the different dialects. Source-language (sl) agentivity appears to be at work in the dialects where the nonstandard variant is prevalent, while recipient-language (rl) agentivity could be behind the use of the standard variant in the other dialects.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.v9i4.26027


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