Diachrony and Grammaticalization

Steve Nicolle

in The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspect

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195381979
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Diachrony and Grammaticalization

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  • Linguistics
  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology


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Questions about diachronic change as it relates to tense and aspect (TA) range from the general, such as “How do TA systems come about?” and “How do TA systems change over time?,” to the more specific, such as “How do individual tense/aspect markers or particular temporal or aspectual distinctions arise?” and “How do tense/aspect markers change over time?” This article begins with a brief summary of how entire TA systems develop and change, before focusing on grammaticalization of tense and aspect markers. It then discusses desemanticization and decategorialization, source constructions in primary grammaticalization, secondary grammaticalization, grammaticalization chains, gradience and semantic retention, and diachronic change in tense and aspect induced by language contact.

Keywords: tense; aspect; diachronic change; grammaticalization; desemanticization; decategorialization; primary grammaticalization; secondary grammaticalization; gradience; language contact

Article.  12600 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Historical and Diachronic Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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