LINGUIST List 13.2037

Tue Aug 6 2002

Sum: History of Grammaticalization

Editor for this issue: Marie Klopfenstein <>


  1. Therese Lindstr�m, The history of grammaticalisation

Message 1: The history of grammaticalisation

Date: The history of grammaticalisation
From: Therese Lindstr�m <>
Subject: The history of grammaticalisation

Summary of the Query on the History of Grammaticalisation (13.1395.2)

Thank you to all of those who responded to my query regarding the
history of the concept of grammaticalisation. I am sorry I have not
posted a sum earlier, but this could not be helped. I hope you are
still interested in hearing what people told me however.

First of all I would like to thank Elena Bashir (University of
Chicago), Stavros Skopeteas (University of Erfurt), Harold
F. Schiffman (University of Pennsylvania), Sebastian Ross-Hagebaum
(Rice University), Jacqueline Monschau (University of Bonn), Charley
Rowe (University of Newcastle), Isabelle Buchstaller (University of
Edinburgh) and Natalia Slaska (University of Sheffield).

Below I will summarise the replies I got together with a brief list of
references that were recommended. If anyone is interested in finding
out more about how my research is going please either just drop me a
line or have a look at my homepage which may at least give you some

Sum: - One of the replies concerned the choice between
"grammaticalisation" and "grammaticisation". The person who
replied claimed that the latter term was more correct in the sense of
'development of a lexical item into a grammatical marker of some
sort' and that the former term would have to have a meaning such as
'the process of becoming grammatical as opposed to
ungrammatical'. This was supported by evidence such as that we say
"political" but "politicisation", not *"politicalisation".
But the person who sent me this reply also thought that I would see a
correlation between the age of the user and the choice of
terminology. Grammaticisation presumably being the older term.

- Someone else told me he thought the term had originated in Antoine
Meillet"s writings. It is true that Meillet used the term in 1912
and 1915. This fact has often been mentioned in brief histories of
grammaticalisation such as Lehmann (1982 [1995] and Hopper and
Traugott (1993).

- Another person who replied thought he had seen the term
"morphologisation" somewhere. This has sometimes been used with
meanings similar to grammaticalisation, e.g. by Tom Givon who has
been seen as the person who revived grammaticalisation in the
1970s. He has sometimes split grammaticalisation into morphologisation
and syntacticisation. The same person also thought he recalled seeing
auxiliation somewhere, and quoted a line from somewhere online where
Benveniste (1968:86-91) and Meillet (1994:387-420) are said to have
described this process in Latin. Benveniste does not seem to have used
the term "grammaticalisation", preferring to use "auxiliation"
and "mutation". Whether Meillet actually used the term
"auxiliation" at some point I have still not had time to
check. But I have not seen it in any of his publications that I have

- Another reply recommended that I have a look at the brief historical
overviews in Hopper and Traugott and Lehmann, and noted that the term
is usually put down to Meillet. I"d like to add that Heine et al
(1991) "Grammaticalization: A Conceptual Framework" also has a
brief historical description of grammaticalisation. But apart from
these three brief treatments, there has not been that much written on
the history of grammaticalisation.

- Another helpful person told me that she had come across the term
"grammaticalisation" for the first time in Wolfgang Dressler"s
"Morphonology" (1980), but that she had also heard of and used the
terms: "lexicalisation", "fossilisation" and
"freezing". She looked upon "grammaticalisation" as a general
term which would refer to processes in all aspects of the grammar. And
when she first came across the term "grammaticisation" quite
recently she was surprised because she"d never seen it before.


Heine, Bernd et al. 1991. "Grammaticalization: A Conceptual
Framework" Chicago / London: University of Chicago Press.

Hopper, Paul and Elizabeth Closs
Traugott. 1993. "Grammaticalization" Cambridge: CUP.

Kuteva, Tania. "Auxiliation: An Enquiry into the Nature of
Grammaticalization." OUP.

Lehmann, Christian. 1982 [1995] "Thoughts on Grammaticalization."
Munich / Newcastle: Lincom Europa.

Anyone who is interested in recent work on grammaticalisation is
recommended to look at John Benjamins" catalogue and the special
issue on grammaticalisation from Language Sciences from last year.

Thanks again to all of you who replied.

Best regards,


P.S. If anyone wants to know who told me what in order to get in touch
with them and ask them more, please let me know and I can forward you
the details and their full replies if need be.

Therese Lindstr�m, PhD Student
University of Sheffield

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