World Lexicon of Grammaticalization

World Lexicon of Grammaticalization

World Lexicon of Grammaticalization

World Lexicon of Grammaticalization

Synopsis

While the comparative method is concerned with regularities in phonological change, grammaticalization theory deals with regularities of grammatical change. In an A-Z format, this book summarizes the most salient generalizations that have been made on the unidirectional change of grammatical forms and constructions. It thus demonstrates that grammatical change is regular and also adds to our knowledge of universal properties of human languages. Indices organized by source and target concepts allow for flexible use, and the findings delineated in the book are relevant to students of language across theoretical boundaries.

Excerpt

Over the course of the last three decades, a wealth of data has been published on the origin and development of grammatical forms. The main purpose of the present work is to make this wealth accessible to a wider readership. To this end, over 400 processes relating to the evolution of grammatical categories are discussed, using data from roughly 500 different languages. (See Appendix 3 for a list of languages figuring in this book.)

The readership we have in mind for this book includes first of all linguists. Grammaticalization theory, which is the framework adopted here (see §1.1), is concerned with language use across space and time; hence the findings presented may be of help for diachronic reconstruction, especially in areas where other tools available to the historical linguist, such as the comparative method and internal reconstruction, do not yield appropriate results. The descriptive linguist will find information, for example, on how and why different grammatical meanings can be related to one another in a principled way (i.e., on how to deal with issues like polysemy and heterosemy), on why there are some regular correspondences between grammatical forms and the meanings expressed by them, or on why certain linguistic forms have simultaneously lexical and grammatical functions. Anthropologists, sociologists, and psychologists may discover that the kind of human behavior held responsible for the evolution of grammatical forms is not all that different from the kind of behavior they observe in their own fields of study.

What distinguishes this work from relevant monographs on grammaticalization theory (e.g., Lehmann 1982; Heine and Reh 1984; Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer 1991; Traugott and Heine 1991a, 1991b; Hopper and Traugott 1993; Bybee, Perkins, and Pagliuca 1994; Pagliuca 1994; Heine 1997b; Ramat and Hopper 1998) is its conception as a reference work. Accordingly, an attempt was made to collect many data from as many different languages as possible and to avoid theoretical biases - as far as this is possible and feasible.

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