Remarks on grammaticalization,text a~d theories of change

Susan Wright


These remarks concern a theory of change which has one particular change-type at its centre: grammaticalization. This concept is defined by Meillet (1912:131) as ~le passage d'un mot autonome au role d'element grammatical". The definition's very breadth has led to the incorporation of "grammaticalization" into various theories of syntactic change in different guises. Contrast, for instance, the catastrophic character that Lightfoot (1979) attributes to this type of change as category change, with the regulatory role assigned to it by Givan (1979:ch. 5) in his attempt to justify the hypothesis that certain types of diachronic change embody a "syntacticizationl ' process. Note too, its functional role in Traugott's (1980) theory of grammaticalization chains as semantic-pragmatic shifts, and its specific manifestation as category change by lexical and speaker-to-speaker diffusion in Romaine's (1981) socia-historical linguistics.

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