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PUERTO RICAN/PORTO-CRUCIAN SPANISH AND THE--NDO MORPHEME.

1. INTRODUCTION. This paper is devoted to the study of Puerto Rican Spanish in Saint Croix, United States Virgin Islands (USVI), and the use of the Spanish progressive forms by this community of speaker in a situation of intense contact with English. Previous studies have found that Spanish/English contact in the US and Puerto Rico triggers morphosyntactic transfers from the English progressive to Spanish (Klein 1980; Koontz-Garboden 2003; Morales 1986; Perez Sala 1973; Sanchez-Munoz 2004; Silva-Corvalan 1994; Torres-Cacoullos 2000; Vazquez Silvestre 1974; among others). Spanish and English have progressive forms that are parallel in morphology: auxiliary + -ndo '-ing'; however, morphologically Spanish differs from English: while in English the Present Progressive conveys an ongoing action (John is writing a book on English poetry), Spanish may use the Simple Present or Present Progressive (Juan escribelesta escribiendo un libro sobre poesia inglesa) to convey the same meaning. Simple Present in Spanish is most commonly used to describe an imperfect action in the present or habitual activity (Pousada & Poplack 1982). The hypothesis tested here is that the grammatical behavior of--ndo is determined by its lexical and aspectual meaning (Morimoto, 2001). According to this hypothesis, the Spanish Progressive forms should be associated with atelic and imperfect dynamic structures in so far as the -ndo denotes a process, which develops at a determined moment, but which lacks a beginning and end of the event. Three research questions guide this investigation: (1) what grammatical aspects are associated with the gerund periphrases in Puerto Rican-Saint Croix Spanish; (2) which lexical aspects are predominant in the gerund periphrases; and (3) what is the behavior of the gerund in Puerto Rican-Saint Croix Spanish in comparison to Puerto Rican Spanish in Puerto Rico, where Spanish/English contact is not as intense as in Saint Croix.

This research allows us to contribute to the growing body of studies in linguistic microvariation (i.e. the study of language systems that are very similar (Barbiers 2009)). During the last two decades, works of this kind have devoted more and more attention to regional dialects and non-canonical varieties of certain languages (Brandner 2012). So far, little attention has been paid to the study of microvariation across Spanish dialects. This paper fills that void by studying the distribution of the -ndo morpheme, especially the periphrastic forms (auxiliary + -ndo), in Puerto Rican-Saint Croix Spanish and comparing the findings with Puerto Rican Spanish, and Spanish in the US, as previously stated. This research is part of an ongoing project on Spanish in Saint Croix; the report presented here is preliminary. The paper is organized as follows: Section 2 offers an overview of Porto-Crucian in Saint Croix. Section 3 discusses some grammatical properties of Puerto Rican Spanish. In Section 4 I discuss the distribution of--ndo in the Puerto Rican context, and examine how recent proposals concerning the uses of the gerund do not support the proposal of linguistic contact as a factor that increases the uses of--ndo; Section 5 discuss the methodology of the current study, and Section 6 and 7 the results and conclusion respectively.

2. PORTO-CRUCIAN. The United States Virgin Islands (USVI), an unincorporated territory of the United States, are a group of islands in the Caribbean comprising three main islands, namely: Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas, and many other surrounding islands.

Saint Croix is the largest of the islands, with an estimated population of 103,574 habitants from diverse ethnic groups: black 76%, white 15.6%, Asian 1.4%, other 4.9%, and mixed 2.1% (see CIA database). English is the most common language; however, other languages are spoken too: Spanish, French, and Creole (English Creole, French Creole). As of the 2010 US Census, approximately twenty percent of the entire population in Saint Croix was of Hispanic origin, primarily from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic; Spanish was the second most commonly spoken language on the island, just after English. There is also a recorded history of floating migrations among Puerto Ricans to USVI, and particularly, to Saint Croix between the 1920s and 1940s, when the United States promoted the agricultural development of the island (Boyer 1983; Gonzalez & Rios-Villarini 2012). Saint Croix was a suitable place for many Puerto Ricans given its proximity to Vieques, an island-municipality of Puerto Rico in the northeastern Caribbean, just 50 miles from Saint Croix. Most immigrants were employees of the sugar cane industry, spoke a variant of their social class, and did not master English, the language of use in Saint Croix. The following fragment of an interview performed in Saint Croix in 2005 reflects this social reality:
Mis padres son oriundos de Vieques, ellos emigraron para esta isla en
el 1934 en busca de mejor situacion economica. [...] En aquella epoca
no habi'a las facilidades que hay hoy dia de grandes lanchas. [...] En
aquella epoca tenian que venir en barcos de vela. Habi'a un senor
puertorriqueno que el era de Culebra, que tenia un barco, el se llama,
el dueno de ese barco era don Esteban Rivera, tenia un barco bastante
grande, [...] transportaba tanto pasajero como animales de aqui para
alia y de alia para aca [...] Ese senor transporto muchisimas familias
de Vieques para Santa Cruz.
'My parents are natives of Vieques. They migrated to this island in
1934, in search of a better economic situation. [...] At that time
there were no big facilities like there are today with large boats.
[...] In that era people had to come in sailboats. There was a Puerto
Rican man that was from Culebra who had a boat, his name is, the owner
of that boat was Esteban Rivera, he had a pretty big boat [...] he
transported many passengers as if they were animals from here to there
and from there to here. [...] That man transported many families from
Vieques to Saint Croix.'


A second migratory wave to Saint Croix took place in 1960, when bilingual school teachers were recruited in Vieques. These educated professional workers were needed to teach the growing population of Spanish-speaking students who were in need of education. This ongoing flow between Puerto Rico and Saint Croix has created permeable social and cultural boundaries between the territories, leading to interconnected social and linguistic exchanges (Chinea 2005). It has also given rise to a term that is known in the literature as Porto-Crucian (i.e. Puerto Rican immigrants to Saint Croix (cf. LeCompte Zambrana et al. 2012)). As a result, the Porto-Crucian community in Saint Croix has developed patterns of plurilingualism and pluri-identification. De Jesus (2009) shows some examples of this plurilingualism and pluri-identification in one family living in Saint Croix where the Father/Step-Father sometimes says he is Puerto Rican and at other times says he is Crucian, speaks Puerto Rican Spanish, and pidginized English; or the Mother, who sometimes says she is Crucian, at other times says she is Puerto Rican, speaks Crucian, Puerto Rican Spanish, and Virgin Islands English.

Even though Spanish has been spoken by a large population of Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin in Saint Croix for almost a century now, researchers have exhibited little or no interest in this linguistic community. With exception of Simounet (1990, 2005), and few other researchers (Gonzalez-Rivera 2005, 2009-2010; Morales Reyes 2007) there are very few (if any) studies concerning the Spanish of Saint Croix or of the Spanish that the Porto-Crucians and Crucian Ricans speak. Simounet (1999) has demonstrated that this community maintains Spanish as a characteristic of identity, an attachment to a cultural aspect that possibly defines them as individuals and differentiates them from other migratory groups that exist in the island (e.g. the Dominicans). In other words, language maintenance linked to community ties has provided regional sociolinguistic identity to Puerto Ricans in Saint Croix.

Saint Croix provides us with an appropriate context to research Spanish, not only because there is a significant community of Puerto Ricans and children of Puerto Ricans living on the island, but also because a substantial group of Dominicans have immigrated to the island in recent years. The additional study of this Dominican community will allow us to understand whether this ethnic group maintains and uses Spanish in Saint Croix, and if they preserve grammatical properties of Dominican Spanish. Additionally, this would help us to compare said dialect with the Porto Crucian and Crucian Rican dialects and posit if they speak one Spanish dialect in Saint Croix or various dialects. If this is the case we can determine if these dialects preserve aspects of the grammatical system from the original dialect; and will allow us to contribute also to the growing body of literature regarding Spanish language in the United States and associated territories. This is extremely important if we take into consideration that Latinos are the largest minority group in the United States and that the number of Spanish speakers has grown rapidly in recent decades, reflecting the arrival of new immigrants from Latin America. Saint Croix on the other hand provides us with a suitable scenario in order to prove or deny the supposed linguistic influence of English on the distribution and uses of the Spanish gerund, which is the focus of the current study. In the following section I discuss some grammatical properties of Puerto Rican Spanish.

3. PUERTO RICAN SPANISH. Puerto Rican Spanish is spoken in Puerto Rico, a US territory located in the Caribbean, just east of the Dominican Republic. There is an estimated population of 4,000,000 (approx.) inhabitants on the island and there are another 4,000,000 (approx.) speakers of Puerto Rican origin in the continental US, mainly in New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, and New Jersey. Even though Spanish and English are both official languages of the island, Spanish is the native language of most of the population and the one used in daily life. English, on the other hand, is restricted to specific contexts (e.g. the Federal Court). However, both languages are taught in school from K to 12 grades (Gutierrez-Rexach & Gonzalez-Rivera 2014).

As a Caribbean dialect (alongside dialects of Cuba, Dominican Republic, parts of Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, etc.), Puerto Rican Spanish has some idiosyncratic grammatical properties. Some of them are phonological, such as the merger of /l/ and /r/ in syllable- and word-final position ('comer' >[komel] to eat), the presence of a posterior, usually velar fricative long /r/ ("velar r") ('carro' > [kaRo] or [kaxo] car), and the reduction of syllable- and word-final /s/ ('casas' > [kasah] houses), among other phonological features. Among these three features, "velar r" has been recognized as one of the most conspicuous characteristics of Puerto Rican Spanish. There are some distinctive syntactic properties of Puerto Rican Spanish as well, such as the use of overt subject pronouns in contexts where the more typical option in other dialects is a null subject pronoun; non-inversion in wh-questions, while in Standard Spanish either the subject pronoun may be dropped or it appears post-verbally; the occurrence of overt subject pronouns with infinitives; and the alternation between pre-modification and post-modification of a negative word by a degree modifier (Lipski 2006):

(1) a. Yo traje la ensalada que tu me pediste.

'I brought the salad you asked me for.'

b. Yo no se por que el es asi.

'I don't know why he behaves that way.'

(2) a. ?Como tu te llamas?

'What is your name?

b. ?Donde tu vives?

Where do you live?

(3) a. Para tu poder llegar a mi casa, tienes que tomar la salida cinco del expreso.

'In order for you (to be able to) to arrive at my house, you need to take exit five off the expressway.'

b. Sin yo saber nada, mi esposa compro un coche nuevo.

'Without me knowing anything, my wife bought a new car.'

(4) a. No quiero saber mas nada de ti.

'I do not want to know anything else about you.'

b. No he visto a mas nadie.

'I have not seen anybody else.'

The heavy use of subject pronouns in Puerto Rican Spanish has been explained mainly as a result of the contact situation between Spanish and English in Puerto Rico (Gili Gaya 1965). However, some scholars question the supposed influence of English in Puerto Rican Spanish (cf. Lopez Morales 1992; Morales 1980, 1982, 1986, 1989). Among other phenomena that are associated with English contact in the Puerto Rican dialect, and in areas of general contact between Spanish and English, one can find a large amount of literature on the gerund, which constitutes the focus of this research. Sanchez (2002), for example, investigates the influence that English has on Spanish spoken in Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao (the ABC islands) where they coexist with Papiamentu, a Portuguese-based Creole language. Sanchez argues that there was a morphosyntactic transfer of--ndo in Spanish to Papiamentu, and that later the uses of the gerund were extended to the progressive periphrasis through contact with English. The findings by Sanchez appear to support the hypothesis that the synchronic uses of the gerund in Puerto Rican Spanish respond to the processes of linguistic interference. In other words, contact with other languages, especially English, favor changes in the use of the Spanish -ndo morpheme. This hypothesis has been tested with relative success in the Spanish of the United States and Puerto Rico, as can be seen in the works of Klein (1980), Suner (1982), Morales (1986), among many others.

4. -NDO MORPHEME IN PUERTO RICAN SPANISH. The -ndo morpheme is one of the verbal forms that has generated perhaps the most debate in the study of the diachrony of the Spanish language. The debate has focused on its use in the verbal system as well as in discourse (Munio Valverde, 1995). In Puerto Rican Spanish the nonstandard uses of the gerund have been explained mostly as a result of the linguistic contact between Spanish and English that exists on the island, as previously mentioned. Morales (1986: 60), for example, documented a number of structures that show the possible transfer and/or interference of English in the distribution of -ndo in the Puerto Rican dialect. These are called Anglicized structures (i.e. a gerund with adjective value and a gerund with nominal value):

(5) a. Desaparecio la cartera conteniendo dinero. It disappeared the wallet containing money 'The wallet containing money disappeared.'

b. Desaparecio la cartera que contenia el dinero. It disappeared the wallet that contained the money 'The wallet that contained the money disappeared.'

(6) a. Este muchacho lo que hace es comprando las muestras. This boy what he does is buying the samples 'What this boy does is buying the samples.'

b. Este muchacho lo que hace es comprar las muestras. This boy what he does is to buy the samples 'What this boy does is buy the samples.'

Standard Spanish usually prefers a relative clause 5b and an infinitive 6b instead of the gerund in the constructions 5a-6a. Together with these innovations of the Spanish grammatical system, Vaquero (1998) mentions other possibilities of the progressive in Puerto Rican Spanish that can best be explained as the result of linguistic contact: the gerund with temporal value in the present, future and past tense:

(7) a. El avion esta saliendo ahora mismo para Miami. 'The plane is leaving right now for Miami.'

b. El avion sale ahora mismo para Miami. 'The plane leaves right now for Miami.'

(8) a. El avion estara llegando a las 7 pm a Miami. 'The plane will be arriving at 7 pm in Miami.'

b. El avion llegara a las 7 pm a Miami. 'The plane will arrive at 7 pm in Miami.'

(9) a. La pelicula estuvo presentandose en el cine (durante varias semanas). 'The movie was showing in the theatre (for several weeks).

b. La pelicula se presento en el cine (durante varias semanas). 'The movie was shown in the theatre (for several weeks).'

These data have motivated some researchers (Morales 1986) to attribute the distribution of the progressive forms in Puerto Rican Spanish to linguistic contact between Spanish and English. For these authors the distribution of various uses of the gerund in Puerto Rican Spanish can be explained as a result of linguistic contact, that is to say, extralinguistic factors that influence language and promote linguistic variation which results in language change. Nevertheless, this explanation generates more problems than solutions with respect to the study of innovative uses of the gerund. First, some of the Anglicized structures (e.g., the gerund with adjective value) are attested in the history of Spanish. Concerning the uses of the gerund with adjective value, Lopez Morales (2004:30) notes that there is no restriction that would prevent previously active processes from surfacing again in the language. Second, some innovative uses of the gerund in Puerto Rican Spanish do not necessarily have a correlation with English, that is, Spanish uses other grammatical structures and not necessarily the corresponding -ing/-ndo (e.g. 'thanks for having me' [not equal to] gracias por teniendome but instead gracias por tenermelinvitarme). Third, there are uses of the gerund that admit a purely linguistic explanation, internal to the system, without resorting to external or extralinguistic factors: in 7a-9a the verbs salir 'to leave', llegar 'to arrive' and presentar 'to show' have lost their aspectual value, possibly due to a process that is known as aspectual coercion (see definition 1), and denote a process, an event that takes place or happens, hence the possibility of combining with -ndo. Example 9a harvests this possibility for the gerund to appear together with the PP durante varias semanas 'for several weeks', which allows us to conclude that the predicate of this sentence denotes an iterative aspect.
Definition 1. Aspectual coercion: Lexical operation that changes the
aspectual value of a lexical item. Without this change, the resulting
combination would not be possible, (de Swart 2000, Dolling 2014, Bosque
and Gutierrez-Rexach 2009)


Aspectual coercion is an operation that adjusts the aspect of a verb or one of its projections according to its context. It is often required to prevent a mismatch between the aspect of a verbal expression and the aspectual constraint of the lexical item it combines with (Dolling 2014). In other words, aspectual coercion sometimes is necessary to repair the mismatch between the aspectual nature of the eventuality and the aspectual input requirements of an aspectual operator like the progressive (de Swart 2000).

Recent studies on the nature of the progressive constructions in Spanish, on the other hand, have shed light on its characteristics. Clements (2003), for example, suggests that the uses of the gerund in Spanish as a second language (L2) of a Chinese informant follow semantic and aspectual restrictions, namely: the gerund uses correspond to atelic dynamic structures (i.e. structures without delimitation or end), and they have an imperfect aspectual value. Ortiz Lopez (2004) documents a similar behavior in a sample of Haitian informants who speak Spanish as an L2, and Gonzalez-Rivera (2009) finds the same restriction to the gerund in a sample of old Spanish (13 (th) century to 15 (th) century). These findings appear to confirm the hypothesis of Torres-Cacoullos (2000), at least for the estar + -ndo construction. For this author, the diachronic study of the gerund shows that the linguistic change of -ndo from old Spanish through the current day is basically quantitative rather than qualitative in scope. Thus, the distribution of the gerund can be explained through linguistic variables, in this case, aspectual considerations, which determine its distribution (Gonzalez-Rivera 2005). Torres-Cacoullos (2000:24) proposes that the synchronic data of estar + -ndo do not support the hypothesis of the linguistic contact with English as a cause of the increase in the distribution of the gerund:
[W]e found no evidence for an increase in the frequency of estar + -ndo
in bilingual varieties with respect to comparable monolingual Spanish.
To the contrary, frequency increases are a diachronic process, one
effect of which is the growing restriction of the simple Present to
non-progressive uses, especially in oral varities. These findings cast
doubt on the notion that increased frequencies of estar + -ndo among
bilinguals are the result of convergence with English.


In other words, it appears that the -ndo morpheme has acquired other syntactic-semantic possibilities in the synchrony of Spanish that, in turn, refers us to its diachrony: in the evolution from Latin to Spanish, the notion of the gerund gave place to durative aspect, that is to say, it added functions that were absent in Latin. It appears then that the Spanish gerund maintains an accelerated evolution towards other grammatical contexts, such as the case of the gerund with habitual value or of futurity. Finally, non-standard uses of the gerund appear in scenarios where Spanish is not in contact with English or is in contact with languages that are typologically distant from English, such as the case in the Andean region, between Colombia and Ecuador, the cochambino Spanish of Bolivia, Haitian-influenced Spanish in the oriental area of Cuba, the Haitian-influenced Spanish on the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and the achinado Spanish in Madrid, among other possible scenarios.

(10) Spanish in the Andean region (Nino-Murcia 1995)

Dame trayendo el pan.

You give me bringing the bread 'Bring me the bread.'

(11) Cochambino Spanish, Bolivia (Pfander 2002)

En ahi habia estado orinando y nosotros recien llegando. In there he had been urinating and we recently arriving 'He had been urinating in there and we were close to arriving.'

(12) Haitian-influenced Spanish, Cuba (Ortiz Lopez 1999) Yo pierdo un hermano aqui porque esta cortando cana. I lost a brother here because he was cutting cane 'I lost a brother here because he was cutting cane.'

(13) Haitian-influenced Spanish, Dominican Republic and Haitian border (Ortiz Lopez 2004)

No llevando nada, deja todo alla.

No (did not) bringing nothing, he/she/it leaves everything there 'She is not bringing anything, she leaves everything there.'

(14) Achinado Spanish, Madrid (Clements 2003) Tu puede ya fuera chica, trabajando. You can now outside girl, working 'You can work outside now, girl.'

5. METHODOLOGY. The data for this investigation were collected in Saint Croix from the years 2002 to 2005, mainly in the town of Christiansted, in the northern part of the island. Christiansted has an estimated population of 3,000 inhabitants.

I was able to obtain highly valuable information from the Saint Croix linguistic community and their language by means of recorded observation, conversations and interviews. For the sake of this research a total of ten respondents comprise the sample. The data collected follow the sociolinguistic interview model (Labov 1994), by which we can obtain data produced in spontaneous and semi-spontaneous conversations in natural contexts of use of the language: in offices, streets, service businesses, etc. Lastly, the respondents were selected by following the deliberate sample model.

The principal criteria for selection were: bilingualism, place of residence, and years in Saint Croix. Each respondent demonstrated bilingual competence in Spanish and English and had resided in Saint Croix for at least five years prior to the study. Table 1 reviews general information (age, gender, linguistic competence, etc.) concerning the participating respondents. The selected respondents underwent interviews of twenty to forty minutes, using a portable tape recorder to record said interviews. The participants always knew when they were being recorded and the general objectives for the research. Through the interviews we obtained a total of 6,744 verb forms, of which 295 (or 4.4%) appeared as -ndo. Of these forms, 220 were analyzed in this study, specifically those which correspond to the verbal periphrasis in gerunds. The linguistic variables examined are the grammatical aspect and the lexical aspect. These variables correlate in turn to the auxiliary verb of the gerund periphrasis.

The data of Porto-Crucian Spanish are compared with the Spanish of Puerto Rico. For this I utilize a random sample of the Norma Popular en la Zona Metropolitana de

San Juan, a database gathered by the Graduate Program in Linguistics at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras (Aleman 2000/2005), as well as El Habla Culta de la Generacion Joven de San Juan, Puerto Rico (Benitez 2001). The results of the study are presented in the following section.

6. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION. In this section I analyze the uses of the progressive forms ending in -ndo by taking into consideration the lexical and grammatical aspects of the lexical items the -ndo combines with. The lexical aspects or AKTIONSARTEN are categories of propositions. The three major lexical aspects are states, processes or activities, and telic Aktionsarten. The first two are atelic, while telic includes accomplishments and achievements, which have a culmination point. In (17) John's building a house culminates when the house is completed, and John's reaching the summit culminates when he has reached the summit. On the other hand, atelic Aktionsarten do not have a culmination point but potentially carry on for an unspecified amount of time: in (15) John is either happy or he is not, but there is no endpoint, and similarly for (16) and John's walking (Tonhauser 2007, Dowty 1986).

(15) States: John is happy, John knows Portuguese

(16) Processes or activities: John walked, John danced

(17) Telic: John built a house, John reached the summit.

The lexical aspect of a sentence depends on its verb, grammatical aspect markers, the presence or absence of telic modifiers, and other properties of the predicate (e.g. measure phrases, bare plurals or mass terms as the arguments of the verb, etc.). Here I make the distinction between dynamic predicates (processes or activities, and telic) and statives, the latter being incompatible with the -ndo morphology ('John is knowing Portuguese), while the former is denned in terms of whether or not energy is needed to maintain a given situation. In sum, lexical aspect refers to situation types denoted in the predicates which are distinguished on the basis of temporal properties, such as dynamism, stativity, and telicity. Telicity is defined in terms of whether an event involves a natural culmination point (Yap et al. 2009).

Grammatical aspect, on the other hand, refers to refers to grammaticalized linguistic devices that allow the speaker to impose a bounded or unbounded perspective on a situation or event (viewpoint aspect). There are two major categories: imperfective and perfective. While the latter presents a situation from an external perspective, often as completed, imperfective aspect presents a situation from an internal point of view, often as an ongoing action (progressive) (Yap et al. 2009, Li 2000, Comrie 1976). Here I use the following categories: imperfect (imperfective), aorist and perfect (perfective), and prospective (i.e. an event that occurs subsequent to a given reference time or future).

When we analyze the grammatical aspect of the -ndo periphrases in Spanish in Saint Croix we find that they maintain a correlation with the imperfective in 85.5% of the cases, versus the other grammatical aspects, which reflect much smaller percentages (Table 2).

In this sense the gerund in Porto-Crucian Spanish denotes predicates that do not necessarily mention the start or the end of the event described by the verbal predicate. The following examples exemplify this property:

(18) Imperfect

a. Han perdido las tradiciones y las siguen perdiendo. (02)

'They have lost the traditions and continue to lose them.'

Porque esta muchacha iba caminando. (06)

'Because this girl was walking.'

c. Estoy cogiendo clases aqui, en este edificio. (07)

'I am taking classes here, in this building.'

In 18 we do not know when the event of perder 'to lose', caminar 'to walk' and coger 'to take originated, nor do we know if the event has ended; that is, it could be the case that the traditions of Saint Croix continue to be lost 18a, the girl continues walking 18b, or the person continues taking classes in the same building 18c. In this sense, only the internal structure of the situation, and not the situation in its entirety, has been confirmed.

On the other hand, when we examine the aorist aspect, that is to say, that which signals the end of the described event by the verbal predicate, we find a very interesting fact, namely: some 63% of the cases occur with the auxiliary ir 'to go' and another 26% with the auxiliary seguir 'to continue'; estar 'to be' appears in only 11% of the cases.

(19) Aorist

a. El siguio estudiando como todo el mundo aqui. (05) 'He continued studying like everyone else here.'

b. La agricultura fue decayendo. (08) 'Agriculture was declining.'

c. No se escuchaba nada, estuvieron llamandole por el Intercom. (09) 'He could not hear anything, they were calling him on the Intercom.'

Gonzalez-Rivera (2005) argues that speakers prefer the uses of the auxiliary ir 'to go' in gerund constructions with aorist value because through this auxiliary the feature [+durative] is provided by means of an auxiliary verb of movement. In a previous study, Gonzalez-Rivera (2009) documents the same pattern in the diachrony of Spanish: from the 13 (th) to the 15th centuries the gerund periphrasis with aorist aspect was associated with the auxiliary ir in some 96.4% of cases. In this sense Porto-Crucian Spanish does not deviate from the tendency of general Spanish, both in its synchrony as well as its diachrony.

When we compare these findings with Puerto Rican discourse, as evidenced by El corpus del Habla Popular and by El Habla Culta de los Jovenes, we note that Porto-Crucian Spanish is very similar to Puerto Rican Spanish: in a sample of five informants from both corpora there is a tendency to favor the imperfect in gerund periphrases in 89.3% of the cases (Table 3). Thus, both in Saint Croix and in Puerto Rico, the speakers favor the gerund periphrases with the imperfect.

These findings allow us to respond to the first research question, namely: What grammatical aspects occur with the gerund periphrases in Puerto Rican-Saint Croix Spanish? The data indicate that the gerund periphrases of Porto-Crucian Spanish tend to exhibit an imperfect aspect, that is, without beginning or end. Moreover, the data allow us to conclude that the distribution of the gerund is conditioned by aspectual value, such as the grammatical aspect and, as we will see, the lexical aspect as well.

In Porto-Crucian Spanish the periphrastic constructions denote dynamic predicates in 88% of the cases (Table 4), and most often these predicates are atelic (53.2%), that is to say, they lack an end.

These predicates denote a proposition that actually occurs and, while occurring, changes or progresses with time. Additionally, the dynamic predicates have a limited duration, reflect external actions and require a voluntary act (Binnick 1991); and they are often different from the stative predicates or a state that expresses a unique state that does not change, that is to say, it persists (e.g., ser, estar, quedarse, tener, etc.), as previously stated. Miguel (1999: 3012) defines the stative predicates in the following manner:
A state is an event that does not occur but rather happens; and happens
homogeneously in every moment of the time period along which it
extends. A state, therefore, is lexically incapable of expressing a
change or progress during the given time period; being as it does not
advance, it cannot be directed towards a limit or reach it. It is
limited to hold together during a time period (in every movement of
it), so that it is inherently unbound and durative: continuous.
(English translation)


It should not surprise us, then, that the data of Saint Croix reflect that the periphrastic gerund is used predominantly with dynamic predicates (i.e., the dynamic predicates are completely compatible with the -ndo), while the stative elements, in principle, do not allow the morphology of the gerund. A few examples are presented below:

(20) Gerund with dynamic predicates

a. Y estoy luchando con el. (03) 'And I am struggling with him/it.'

b. Se fueron para el NAVY segun iban saliendo de la escuela. (09) 'They left for the NAVY as they were leaving from school.'

c. Yo creo que hemos pagado un precio alto y seguimos pagando un precio alto. (10)

'I think we have paid a high price and we continue to pay a high price.'

However, despite the proposal that -ndo is incompatible with the morphology of the gerund, this is not completely true. There are stative predicates that may be used with the -ndo morphology via aspectual coercion (Definition 1). Such is the case of stative verbs of perception like ver 'to see', oir 'to hear', as well as the stative verbs of consciousness like pensar 'to think'. These verbs that we can call verbs of inert perception comprise 44.4% of the cases in the data from Saint Croix.

(21) Gerund with stative predicates

a. En el 1987 me salt porque no me gustaba lo que estaba viendo. (02) 'In 1987 I left because I did not like what I was seeing.'

b. Ya estaba sintiendo algo, como que estaba buscando algo que no encontraba. (04)

'I was already feeling something, as I was looking for something that I was not finding.'

c. Y cuando regreso de alla siempre estoy anorando. (10) 'And when he returned from there I am always yearning.'

Some authors like Cortes-Torres (2005) call these verbs VERBS OF MENTAL ACTIVITY. Therefore, the verbs of inert perception impose few restrictions on -ndo, that is to say, they can be aspectually coerced in order to denote a property that they initially lacked. Thus, they cease to denote a state and rather denote an activity. This process has not only been documented in Gonzalez-Rivera (2005), but also in Spanish speakers in New Mexico (Torres-Cacoullos, 2000), in Puerto Rican Spanish (Cortes-Torres, 2005), and in the diachrony of Spanish (Gonzalez-Rivera 2009). We can conclude that the morphology of the gerund can be used to undo the stative nature of stative verbs. Even so, the frequency of gerund periphrasis with stative verbs is very limited, as the data show. Torres-Cacoullos (2000: 212-213) concludes that
The relevance of the state versus dynamic situation distinction for
Spanish has been questioned by King and Suner (1980), who present
numerous examples of estar + -ndo with main verbs classified elsewhere
as statives. However, while estar-plus-stative combinations need not be
starred as ungrammatical, there are frequency restrictions on their use
(cf. Givon, 1979: 22-43).


With regard to the data from Puerto Rican Spanish, the interviewees also prefer dynamic predicates in periphrastic constructions with -ndo (81%) (Table 5).

This allows us to conclude that -ndo is a dynamic morpheme. Such a conclusion has also been documented in the diachrony of Spanish: in the diachronic data (13th to 15 (th) centuries) that Gonzalez-Rivera (2009) examines, some 89.3% of gerund periphrases correspond to dynamic predicates.

These findings allow us to answer the second research question, namely: Which lexical aspects are predominant in the gerund periphrasis? According to the data, the predominant lexical aspect in the gerund periphrasis is dynamic and, predominantly, with atelic predicates. These findings and the findings of the previous section allow us to answer the third research question: What is the behavior of the gerund in Puerto Rican-Saint Croix Spanish in comparison to Puerto Rican Spanish? The data hold that between Puerto Rican Spanish and Porto-Crucian Spanish there is almost no difference in relation to the lexical and grammatical aspect. In summary, the data from Saint Croix and from Puerto Rico support the hypothesis that the -ndo is a dynamic morpheme and, as such, appears with dynamic predicates, for the most part, of activity, that is to say, atelic and stative.

7. CONCLUSION. In this research I have taken a look at the uses of the -ndo morpheme in periphrastic constructions as used by the Porto-Crucian speakers. The examined data allow us to conclude that the -ndo morpheme has an imperfect aspect and is predominantly used with dynamic predicates, that is to say, atelic (and durative). As for the stative verbs in -ndo, I have indicated that in order for a stative predicate to appear with gerund morphology it is necessary to coerce such predicates as this morpheme denotes a dynamic event.

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Department of Hispanic Studies

University of Houston

Houston, TX 77204

[mgonzalez-rivera@uh.edu]

MELVIN GONZALEZ-RIVERA

University of Houston
TABLE 1. Age, gender, and linguistic competence of study participants

Participant   Years in    Gender   Birthplace   Residence   Linguistic
              St. Croix                                     Competence

01            5           M        St. Croix    St. Croix   Bilingual
02            5           F        PR           ...         ...
03            5           F        St. Croix    ...         ...
04            5           F        St. Croix    ...         ...
05            7           F        St. Croix    ...         ...
06            6           F        St. Croix    ...         ...
07            5           M        St. Croix    ...         ...
08            9           M        PR           ...         ...
09            7           M        PR           ...         ...
10            5           F        PR           ...         ...

TABLE 2. Grammatical aspect of the periphrastic gerund in Saint Croix

Imperfect   Aorist   Perfect   Prospective   Total

188         27       4         1             220
 85.5%      12.3%    2          .2           100%

TABLE 3. Grammatical aspect of gerund periphrases in Puerto Rico

Imperfect   Aorist   Perfect   Prospective   Total

274         19        7         7             307
 89.3%       6.2%     2.25      2.25          100%

TABLE 4. Lexical aspect of the periphrastic gerund in Saint Croix

Dynamic   Stative   Total

193       27        220
 88%      12%       100%

TABLE 5. Lexical aspect of the periphrastic gerund in Puerto Rico

Dynamic   Stative   Total

248       59        307
 81%      19%       100%
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