Grammaticalization: a general critique

Brian D. Joseph

in The Oxford Handbook of Grammaticalization

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Grammaticalization: a general critique

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  • Linguistics
  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics


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This article presents a general critique of grammaticalisation theory and grammaticalisation studies. It acknowledges that there is a phenomenon that can be called grammaticalisation and that one-time lexical material can certainly come to serve grammatical functions and to change regarding their lexical and grammatical status. It suggests that our understanding of language and language change has been enriched by the consideration of grammaticalisation over the past thirty years or so, despite those aspects of the grammaticalisation enterprise that may be considers as flawed.

Keywords: grammaticalisation theory; grammaticalisation studies; lexical material; grammatical functions; lexical status; grammatical status; language

Article.  5347 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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