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What is grammaticalization?

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Martin Hilpert

on 22 February 2018

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Transcript of What is grammaticalization?

Hopper 1991:
On some principles of grammaticalization
C: Papa, es gibt zwei die!
M: Hm?
C: Es gibt zwei DIE!
M: Wirklich?
C: Ja, DIE Elefanten,
DIE sich gut kannten.
die Elefanten
DET.def.pl elephant.pl
die sich gut kannten
REL.pl each.other well knew
M: Well, you know, that's actually quite typical. In many of
the world's languages, relativizers grammaticalize out
of determiners or demonstratives. Even in English:
"that elephant - the elephant that ate my sandwich".

the process that creates grammatical structures
for example, relative pronouns from determiners
typically, grammaticalization turns LEXICAL items into GRAMMATICAL ones
in this session, I'd like you to
get to know a definition of the term grammaticalization
see a number of examples from the Germanic languages
understand five important principles that are at work in grammaticalization
Hon kommer till Stockholm. Hon kommer att bli president.
Keep the change. Keep moving!
Gib mir das Buch! Es gibt keine Monster.
nouns, verbs, adjectives, ...
'open' word classes with many members
new words are created on the fly, every day
pronouns, prepositions, auxiliary verbs, ...
'closed' word classes with few members
new members come in, but rarely and slowly
die Elefanten die Elefanten die sich gut kannten
if you can read this, ... interesting, if problematic
Han kan prata Svenska. Kan det vara sant?

"the change whereby lexical items and constructions come in certain linguistic contexts to serve grammatical functions and, once grammaticalized, continue to develop new grammatical functions"
What are grammatical functions?
grammatical functions:
tense, aspect, modality, voice
number, case, definiteness
cause, contrast, concession
five principles
of grammaticalization
principle 1: layering
Any grammatical function is typically expressed by more than one form.
(Future: shall, will, be going to, ...)
Every so often, new forms emerge.
As new "layers" emerge, older layers are not discarded, but coexist with the newer ones.
Examples of layering
the Danish passives:
Inledningen skrives / Inledningen blev skrevet
three English strategies to express past time:
ablaut (sing, sang), affixation (work, worked),
periphrasis (go, have gone)
principle 2: divergence
When grammatical forms emerge out of lexical elements, the original lexical forms typically continue to be used as such.
We have 'be going to', but the verb 'go' still exists as a lexical form.
Examples of divergence
English 'a short while' vs. 'while at Harvard'
German 'Ich kann Karate' vs. 'Kann das stimmen?'
principle 3: specialization
Grammaticalization sometimes starts with a variety of forms that compete against each other.
Whereas initially, many candidates are available, the set is narrowed down as time progresses.
Usually, one candidate form 'specializes' to serve a grammatical function.
Examples of specialization
classic example: French negation
'ne ... pas' ousted 'ne ... mie, gote, amande, areste...'
Reciprocity in English
'each other' ousted self-forms, 'together', and others
Attention: specialization rarely goes to completion, but typically one form is markedly more frequent than the others
principle 4: persistence
When grammatical forms emerge out of lexical elements, some of the lexical meaning remains attached.
We have 'be going to' without the meaning of intentional motion, but the meaning of intentionality lingers on in many cases.
Examples of persistence
Swedish future 'skall V' retains overtones of obligation
the German 'recipient-passive' (get-passive) often involves transfer of an actual object (Er kriegt heute sein Auto repariert.)
principle 5: de-categorialization
When grammatical forms emerge out of lexical elements, they no longer behave like elements from those lexical categories.
Nouns, verbs, and adjectives have typical behaviors (nouns usually take articles, verbs usually have past tenses, etc.); in grammaticalizing forms, these may get lost.
Examples of de-categorialization
English modal 'might' from the past of OE 'magan' - no infinitive, no inflection for person or tense
Swedish impersonal pronoun 'man' from 'man' (Man får inte röka här) - no article, no modification through adjectives
What is grammaticalization?
What principle is shown here?

The German concessive conjunction 'obwohl' is very frequent, the alternative conjunctions 'obschon', 'obgleich', 'obzwar' sound old-fashioned and are rarely used.
What principle is shown here?

The English phrase 'seeing as' can be used in contexts such as the following:
Seeing as he is married, you cannot just ask him out on a date!
What principle is shown here?

The Swedish verb 'ha' is used in the following ways:
Hon har en dotter.
Hon har skrivit ett brev.
What is the difference between 'open' and 'closed' classes of words?
Why is the definition of grammaticalization as 'from the dictionary to the grammar' too simplistic?
Work with a neighbor! Can you come up with your own examples of grammaticalization?
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