Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics VIAL

Alejandro Castañeda Castro (1). Ser and estar from the Cognitive Grammar perspective. VIAL Number 15/2018: 9:46.


This article explores the various uses of ser and estar in Spanish based on the assumptions of Cognitive Grammar (CG). The application of certain concepts of this model to the description of the attributive and non-attributive values of ser and estar allows us to identify a unifying thread that facilitates an integrated description of each use. These concepts and theoretical instruments include grammaticalization through attenuation, active zone, profile/base distinction, and dependency relation through correspondences, among others. In accordance with the symbolic conception of grammar characteristic of CG, we defend the idea that in their attributive and non-attributive uses both ser and estar are signs in which a basic semantic structure present in all the values can be recognized, although with different emergent nuances in specific constructions facilitated by different processes of metonymic extension. The main argument of this paper is that, in the ser/estar opposition, the marked element is estar as it contains a stative-episodic component that, be it in the foreground of the profile or the background of the base presupposed by this verb, is present in all its uses, locative, attributive, as an auxiliary in progressive periphrasis and in adjectival passive constructions. Ser, however, is a copulative verb by default, and may be associated with the notion of identification or correspondence in all its attributive uses and takes on predicative nuances both in its use in locations of event nouns and as an auxiliary in passives.

Keywords: cognitive grammar, attributive, non-attributive, ser, estar

(1) Universidad de Granada, Spain.

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