Grammaticalization as optimization

Paul Kiparsky

in Grammatical Change

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199582624
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731068 | DOI:
Grammaticalization as optimization

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics


Show Summary Details


This chapter takes the issue of grammaticalization back to its theoretical foundation. It lays out the argument for a reversion to the Neogrammarian position by examining in detail the types of change that have come to be known as degrammaticalization. These involve change of a functional element to something less functional, or less restricted in its distribution, such as the ‘deflexion’ of the English and Swedish genitive suffixes to become phrasal affixes or clitics. Degrammaticalization poses a challenge for those who insist that change linking lexical to functional status is unidirectional. However, it is argued that both grammaticalization and degrammaticalization are subtypes of analogical change. It is shown that known examples of degrammaticalization involve analogy of the familiar type: paradigm leveling or proportional analogy. Grammaticalization is analogy of a sort closely bound up with the generative conception of language: analogy with exemplars provided by universal grammar. Grammaticalization may thus introduce changes with no model in the surface data of the preceding generation (for example, a modal auxiliary) because this model is provided by UG.

Keywords: Neogrammarian position; degrammaticalization; deflexion; genitive suffices; phrasal affixes; clitics; language; analogy

Chapter.  14089 words. 

Subjects: Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.