Grammaticalization and explanation

Marianne Mithun

in The Oxford Handbook of Grammaticalization

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199586783
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Grammaticalization and explanation

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


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This article examines the relevance of grammaticalisation for explaining the kinds of structures which occur in languages and why. It focuses on the Navajo language, a language notorious for theoretical puzzles. The analysis reveals that though similarities between syntactic and morphological structure have been observed in many languages, the resemblances are not evidence that the two are the same. The result also suggests that while the relations between semantic scope and particular morpheme orders are certainly observable cross-linguistically, this does not mean that speakers order their morphemes online by scope.

Keywords: grammaticalisation; structures; Navajo language; theoretical puzzles; syntactic structure; morphological structure; semantic scope; morpheme orders

Article.  5507 words. 

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

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