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Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2010
18 Pages, Grade: 1,0
2 Anti-, Dis-, Re- or Degrammaticalization - and what has Lexicalization to do with it?
3 Diachronic process vs. succession of synchronic steps of change
4.1 Grammaticalization of Numerals
4.2 Jespersen’s Negative Cycle
4.3 English genitive s
4.5 Inflationary effects
5 Where does the discussion lead to?
Since the early 1980s, linguists like Christian Lehmann, with essays such as Thoughts on Grammaticalization (Lehmann 1982), re-opened the discourse on the field of Grammaticalization, this field of studies evolved from a tiny, specialist realm into a whole universe of opinions and schools of thought in the last three decades. In the last decade, a group of ‘Irreversibilitists’ such as Haspelmath (1999) have argued that unidirectionality - a one-way development just in the direction from lexis to grammar - is very plausible and then consequently have hailed this feature of unidirectionality as one of the key features resulting from the definition of Grammaticalization. This claim in itself provoked the emergence of a ‘Degrammaticalizationist’ movement which found counter-examples that allegedly falsified the Irreversibilitists theses. Those, on behalf of their model, reacted with arguing that the counter-examples didn’t fit into the overall frame of Grammaticalization theory and needed to be outsourced into different types of linguistic processes.
This paper’s main aim is to present a short overview over the discussion of the last decades - it will follow the arguments & cases of both schools of thought and then try to find out if their arguments aren’t that different from each other to begin with. It will trace phenomena within the field of Grammaticalization which do, in one or the other way, defy the general thesis of unidirectionality and then see if those phenomena simply need to be separated from the system or if there do exist possibilities to integrate them in a fuller set of features which may be used to rejuvenate the definition of Grammaticalization. The paper is organised as follows: Chapter 2 will outline the differing definitions of the terms Degrammati- calization and Lexicalization (concluding with the fact that both terms do have their own, full right of existence). Chapter 3 then will analyze the claim of many linguists that Grammaticalization ought to be only seen as a diachronic process. Chapter 4 will provide the reader with a collection of (alleged) counter-examples to the traditional ways Grammaticalization is claimed to take. Finally, Chapter 5 will recapitulate the discussion. All chapters will try to follow the works of Gram- maticalization’s voices of critique and compare them to those of the ‘Irreversibilit- ist’ school.
The broadest definition of Grammaticalization, which is based on the findings of Meillet (1912), is that of a development of lexical categories or elements towards grammatical morphemes or categories (and from already grammatical to more grammatical forms) (e.g. Zygmunt Frajzyngier 2008). One of the key figures in the field of Grammaticalization studies has been and is Martin Haspelmath, who in his work on unidirectionality (1999) claims to have proven that processes of Grammaticalization are non-reversible. Olga Fischer (2000) takes up this claim and starts her work on unidirectionality with the words
[in] the literature on grammaticalisation it is quite generally assumed that this process is unidirectional and non-reversable [sic], and also that it is essentially a process driven by semantic or pragmatic factors [...] (Fischer 2000: 149) but in the course of her research draws the conclusion that grammaticalisation need not be a process driven purely semantically, whereby the gramatical changes are the result solely of semantic and/or pragmatic change.
(Fischer 2000: 163, my emphasis)
In the same year, Roger Lass (2000) began to deconstruct the claims stated by Haspelmath and since then, discussion tends to the side of the critics of unidirectionality (for an example, see von Mengden (2007), among many others). In this context the terms Degrammaticalization and Lexicalization surfaced and quickly rose to a status of counter-developments to Grammaticalization in Grammaticalization theory.
As Grammaticalization is widely seen as the development of a lexical form to a more grammatical one (Heine/Kuteva 2003), the basic definition of the opposite movement from grammatical forms to more lexical ones is generally either called Lexicalization or Degrammaticalization. In this sense, the terms describe different points of perspective: the loss of grammatical features -> Degrammaticalization vs. a gain in lexical features -> Lexicalization. The use of these terms up to now has not been consistent: sometimes terms are used synonymously or as hyper-/hyponyms(comp. Willis 2007), other linguists such as Christian Lehmann tend to distinctively separate those terms and would like to see them put outside the realm of Grammaticalization theory. Lehmann (2002) dismisses Lexicalization not as the opposite development of Grammaticalization, but as a phenomenon of its own and contrasts it to the one offolk etymology. As an explanation, he adds:
Lexicalization is a process constantly involved in ordinary language activity. T5 shows that the inversion of lexicalization is not grammaticalization. Bestowing structure onto a hitherto opaque expression is not an automatic ingredient of language activity, but demands an enhanced measure of creativity. The operation is called folk etymology (cf. Untermann 1975) and is by magnitudes rarer than lexicalization.
illustration not visible in this excerpt
According to Lehmann Lexicalization is a two-fold term. The first one is the one described in T5 (above) and his conclusion on that type is, that Lexicalization in the first sense, as well as folk etymology, are extremely rare and therefore can not prove Grammaticalization’s unidirectionality claim wrong, because of it only being the exception that proves the rule (Lehmann 2002). But at the end of his article, Lehmann partly puts his own, former views into perspective when he comes to the second case of Lexicalization and acknowledges that
Lexicalization as a process in which something becomes lexical in the second sense would be the same as degrammaticalization. (Lehmann 2002: 14)
Degrammaticalization, on the other hand, is not regarded as being important at all because of its lower frequency of occurence (Lehmann 2002:15).
Doyle (2002) provides the reader with an opposite view: In addition to adding some thoughts on Lehmann’s thesis of unidirectionality (1995), he elaborates on a convincing counter-example of Early Modern Irish and ends his work with taking up the cudgels in behalf of Degrammaticalization. He states
that the drive towards greater morphological transparency is capable of interrupting the grammaticalization cycle, and even of reversing it. My study does not necessarily invalidate the principle of unidirectionality in grammaticalization. It does indicate, though, that we cannot accept it blindly as a dogma. (Doyle 2002: 80)
Lehmann, on the other hand, seems to have completely altered his views on Lexi- calization/Degrammaticalization in his later work Theory and method in grammaticalization (2005). Compared to his position of 2002, he now sums up the
In a simple way of speaking, we may say that grammaticalization pushes a sign into the grammar, while lexicalization pushes it into the lexicon. A conception of the relationship of the two processes therefore presupposes an account of the relationship between lexicon and grammar. (Lehmann 2005: 13)
illustration not visible in this excerpt
His understanding of Lexicalization is condensed in the following scheme:
This attempt, in my opinion, is much more helpful than the former ‘all-or-nothing’ definitions because it describes fluid processes of language change, not set states. When in 2002 he tried to dismiss Degrammaticalization because of its rarity1, in 2005 Lehmann simply sees it as a given process: as the reversal of Grammaticalization (Lehmann 2005: 15).
Johann van der Auwera, who may be called one of ‘Degrammaticalization- ists’ disciples, proposed the following definition:
a. the undoing of a grammatical formative into something other than a grammatical formative, or
b. the undoing of a grammatical formative into a grammatical formative with a weaker degree of grammatical function. (van der Auwera 2002: 20)
But he disagrees with Lehmann’s one-to-one transfer of Degrammaticalization to Lexicalization because of cases such as
the English noun songwriter. It is now a lexical item. It derives from two lexical items, viz. ‘song’ and ‘writer’. So here we are dealing with the making of a lexical item, but one that does not come from a grammatical formative. We are dealing with lexicalization, but not with degrammaticalization. (van der Auwera 2002: 20)
What van der Auwera describes here is nothing more than the formation of composite nouns. The idea behind that example is the difficulty of putting even such general cases and exceptions into consideration when trying to describe or define processes such as Degrammaticalization. But his attempt is one step further to a distinctive definiton which sets Degrammaticalization in contrast to Grammati- calization. Interestingly enough, it took the whole department of Grammatical- ization studies till the year 2009 to recognize the necessity of and to come up with a definition of Degrammaticalization. Before that
[t]he term ‘degrammaticalization has been used to refer to a number of different phenomena, some entirely unrelated. This has had the unfortunate effect that every book or article on degrammaticalization has to start with discussing this terminological medley and providing its own definition. (Norde 2009: 3)
In her work, Norde (2009) bases her research on Degrammaticalization on the famous cline-theory, a pattern which was coined by Hopper and Traugott (2003). It describes the pathway elements in Grammaticalization-processes undergo and implies the unidirectionality-theory. In short, the cline of Grammatical- ization is supposed to follow these steps:
illustration not visible in this excerpt
After having discussed the cline/unidirectionality thesis, having taken a look on scientific history of Degrammaticalization (following the works of Haspelmath (1999, 2004), Lehmann (1982, 2002, 2005), Janda (2001), Heine and Kuteva (2002), Fischer (2001) and many others) and separating it from similar terms such as Anti- and Regrammaticalization, she concludes her work with a definition that consists of the following set of elements:
counterdirectionality, novelty, lack of cross-linguistic replication, and the absence of degrammaticalization chains. (Norde 2009: 107)
With this collection of features, Norde sums up what criteria a phenomenon has to fulfill in order to be counted as a form of Degrammaticalization. Interestingly enough, while being opposed to many of Lehmann’s (and his followers’) views, she adapts Lehmann’s parameters of Grammaticalization (1995 ) to her own findings, combines them with Andersen’s (2005, 2006, 2008) four levels of observation and merges her findings into this classification of types of Degrammaticalization. Norde explains the explicit notion of the last element with the fact that Degrammaticalization ought not to be seen as a ‘mirror-image reversal’ of Grammaticalization processes:
What sets apart degrammaticalization from grammaticalization is that in most cases, degrammaticalization entails a single shift from right to left on the cline of grammaticality. (Norde 2009: 123, original emphasis)
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