Por descontado. Creación de un marcador de evidencia
This paper studies the development of por descontado and the previous construction por de contado, which is attested from the 18th century. It comes from the prepositional phrase de contado, which originally had the meaning ‘in cash’, but in the 16th century acquires also the value ‘on the spot’. This slip is possible because what is paid in cash is paid on the spot. A subsequent slip leads to the value ‘of course’. Since the end of the 19th century, there are constructions of the type dar o tener por descontado, with the meaning ‘take for granted’, in which por descontado is a predicative complement of a noun clause. Given the similarity in meaning between these constructions and por de contado, there was a formal interference that led to the appearance of por descontado as a formal variant of the marker por de contado. This variant is attested from the beginning of the 20th century, and from the second half it becomes the dominant form.