10.01.18 10:38

“What role does iconicity (analogy) play in grammaticalization?"

What role does iconicity (analogy) play in grammaticalization?
The case of English have to compared to Spanish tener que, with a small excursion to Modern Greek
έχω να.


The emphasis in my talk will be on the universal role played by analogy, and specifically on how its influence can be uncovered by means of a close look at both diachronic and comparative evidence. I will illustrate this with respect to the phenomenon of grammaticalization. Grammaticalization is widely invoked as a model to account for universal (typological) developments taking place diachronically (cf. e.g. Haspelmath 1989, Heine and Kuteva 2002). The explanation for its typically unidirectional development has usually been found in the idea that the process is driven semantically, notably in terms of pragmatic inferencing (cf. Hopper and Traugott 2003, Kuteva 2001) and metaphor (e.g. Heine 2014). Grammaticalization studies have concentrated on changes taking place within one particular structure, i.e. the structure that is grammaticalizing, focusing on small shifts on the level of language output.

In my talk I will consider the phenomenon from a processing point of view, examining the synchronic circumstances under which a structure grammaticalizes, rather than focusing on the diachronic development of the grammaticalizing construction itself. Special attention will be paid to the role played by other structures occurring within the overall system of the language under discussion that may have influenced the changing structure through similarities in meaning as well as form. Iconicity, especially in the form of structural and concrete analogy, is a crucial factor here. Analogy is considered a cognitive, domain-independent principle that steers language learners and remains active in the language use of adult speakers when they choose between variants (cf. Tomasello 2003, Itkonen 2005, Hofstadter and Sanders 2013).

I will illustrate the universal force of analogy by showing the role it played in a grammaticalization process involving a lexical verb of possession developing into a modal auxiliary of obligation before an infinitive. Formal and functional similarities present in both abstract-structural and concrete, lexical patterns/constructions will be used to explain why English have-to and Spanish tener-que behave in similar ways and end up being modal auxiliaries, whereas German haben- zu and Dutch hebben-te do not develop into modal verbs but continue to be used the way they were in earlier stages of the language. The diachronic circumstances in the four languages indicate that there is some cross-linguistically valid ‘unidirectionality’ at work, but one that is not the product of grammaticalization as traditionally considered but the product of a similarity in the synchronic circumstances present at the moment the grammaticalization took place.



References (selection):


Haspelmath, Martin. 1989. 'From Purposive to Infinitive - a Universal Path of Grammaticization'. Folia Linguistica Historica 10: 287-310.

Heine, Bernd. 2014. Grammaticalization, metaphor, and explanation: What accounts for unidirectionality? Plenary paper presented at the Workshop de Gramaticalização II, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói, 7 May, 2014 (http://www.workshop gramaticalizacao.uff.br/images/Rio.pdf).

Heine, Bernd, and Kuteva, Tania. 2002. World Lexicon of Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hofstadter, Douglas and Sander, Emmanuel. 2013. Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking. New York: Basic Books.

Hopper, Paul and Traugott, Elizabeth. 2003[1993]. Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Itkonen, Esa. 2005. Analogy as Structure and Process. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Kuteva, Tania. 2001. .Auxiliation. An Enquiry into the Nature of Grammaticalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tomasello, Michael. 2003. Constructing a Language. A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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