LINGUIST List 13.2236

Sat Sep 7 2002

Review: Typology: Wischer & Diewald, eds. (2002)

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  1. Yura Lander, Wischer & Diewald, eds. (2002), New Reflections on Grammaticalization

Message 1: Wischer & Diewald, eds. (2002), New Reflections on Grammaticalization

Date: Fri, 06 Sep 2002 16:31:57 +0000
From: Yura Lander <>
Subject: Wischer & Diewald, eds. (2002), New Reflections on Grammaticalization

Wischer, Ilse and Gabriele Diewald, eds. (2002)
New Reflections on Grammaticalization,
John Benjamins, xiv+437 pp., Typological Studies in Language 49.

Book Announcement on Linguist:

Yury A. Lander, Institute of Oriental Studies, Moscow

Grammaticalization is a popular topic in current linguistic
investigations, and the volumes published by John Benjamins do not
play a secondary role here. Thus, one can consider the volume
reviewed here to be a sequel of such collections as Traugott & Heine
(eds.) 1991; Pagliuca (ed.) 1994; Giacalone Ramat & Hopper (eds.)

At the same time, the debates about grammaticalization obviously have
reached a new stage - where (i) the very process of grammaticalization
does not seem to be so primitively uncontroversial; (ii) new data
concerning the grammatical development may revise some of the
well-established theses of the grammaticalization theory; (iii) the
need to include grammaticalization into the more broad theoretical
picture has become apparent (cf. Giacalone Ramat & Hopper (1998a: 1)
on the "growing reflexive interest in integrating grammaticalization
with theoretical work in descriptive and historical linguistics").

All this is well reflected in "New Reflections on Grammaticalization",
which grew out of an international symposium of the same name held at
Potsdam University in 1999. The book consists of an introduction
outlining the main topics to be discussed, 24 papers, an appendix
containing bibliographical data of papers presented in the symposium
but published elsewhere, and a subject index.


The body of the volume begins with Christian Lehmann's seminal paper
"New reflections on grammaticalization and lexicalization" (pp. 1-18),
which discusses the previously postulated opposition between the two
processes included in the title in light of the contrast between
analytic (roughly, constructing) and holistic (roughly, fixing)
approaches to linguistic items. Lehmann argues that lexicalization is
a result of a holistic approach whereby a sign is inventorized, while
grammaticalization is simply a sign's acquiring "functions in the
analytical formation of more comprehensive signs". The two processes
are therefore cannot be opposed to each other, the more so that
grammaticalization can involve lexicalization. Importantly, according
to this view, one should not merge degrammaticalization and

Although following Lehmann's paper in order, "More thoughts on
degrammaticalization" by Johan van der Auwera (pp. 19-29) does not
follow it in its basic theses. Here "lexicalization is the making of a
lexical item out of something other than a lexical item" (p. 21);
hence, this notion has an "extensional" overlap with
"degrammaticalization", of which a particular case is "the undoing of
a grammatical formative into something other than a grammatical
formative" (ibid.), e.g., into a separate lexeme. This view allows,
however, to separate a "narrow concept of degrammaticalization" (with
grammatical formatives undoing into grammatical formatives "with a
weaker degree of grammatical function" (ibid.)) from a "wide concept"
which includes cases of lexicalization. In addition, van der Auwera
touches upon some possible directions for the research of

Jurgen Klausenburger ("Grammaticalization within a theory of
morphocentricity"; pp. 31-43) proposes a theoretical scheme for
accounting for various changes occurring between the domains of
syntax, morphology and phonology from the position, according to which
it is the morphology that constitutes the nuclear of universal
grammar. After illustrating (with the data of Romance languages) the
"morpho-centripetal" processes of "de-syntacticization" (which is
equal for him to "grammaticalization") and "de- phonologization" and
suggesting alternative analyses for a few cases usually thought as
reversal processes, Klausenburger argues that most of what he
discusses should be thought as instances of "the removal of
characteristics". This concerns in fact mainly the issue of
unidirectionality of grammatical change from less to more grammatical
forms, which - as Klausenburger declares - "has been rendered moot"
(p. 41).

The debates about unidirectionality also serve as a background for
Muriel Norde's "The final stages of grammaticalization: Affixhood and
beyond" (pp. 45- 65), which is devoted to the functional reduction
and/or change of function ("exaptation") of several affixes in
Swedish. It is shown that although a number of such changes could be
analyzed as violations of the unidirectionality principle (providing
the cases of the development, say, from inflection to derivation),
they need a further analysis which should take into account the
overall diachronic changes in a language (such as the loss of case as
an inflectional category in Swedish).

A similar point is given by Aydan Doyle in his "Yesterday's affixes as
today's clitics: A case study in degrammaticalization" (pp. 67-81),
who discusses the evolution of Conomara Irish subject clitics from
Early Modern Irish agreement affixes and relates it to the resetting
of syntactic parameters (although unlike Norde, in the generative
sense) as well as to the phonological change.

Bernd Heine ("On the role of context in grammaticalization";
pp. 83-101) deals with the problem of how a grammatical item comes to
"create" new (target) meanings from "original" (source)
meanings. Heine describes this process as a series of stages whereby
the use of a given grammatical item extends, first, to linguistic
contexts where the target meaning is implicated, second to contexts
where the source meaning is canceled; the last stage includes
conventionalization of the target meaning. Such a representation
makes it possible to build a typology of languages based on "how far"
a concrete grammaticalization path is passed.

The interrelations between grammaticalization and linguistic contexts
are further discussed in Gabriele Diewald's paper "A model for
relevant types of contexts in grammaticalization" (pp. 103-120). While
using the development of the German modals as a primary illustration,
Diewald singles out a few stages of a grammatical change which are
very similar to those suggested by Heine, but which include also the
initial expansion of a linguistic item to some untypical
contexts. Further, as Diewald emphasizes, not only the source meaning
is responsible for a given diachronic development, but also changes of
the "older" lexical meaning on a par with restructuring of entire
grammatical subsystems.

Soteria Svorou ("Semantic constraints in the grammaticalization of
locative constructions"; pp. 121-142) is also concerned with the
dependence of grammaticalization on the source - but from a different
perspective. In particular, several locative constructions are
compared, and it is argued that some of them are more likely to show
advanced grammaticalization (that is, "morphophonological reduction,
loss of autonomy, loss of obligatory marking, and [semantic - YL]
schematization" (p. 120)) than others.

As one can see from the very title of Gunter Lorenz's "REALLY
WORTHWILE or NOT REALLY SIGNIFICANT? A corpus-based approach to the
delexicalization and grammaticalization of intensifiers in Modern
English" (pp. 143-161), this study deals with English adjective
intensification constructions, among which several types are
distinguished. Lorenz demonstrates that intensifiers of some three
types - namely COMPARATIVE (e.g., 'extraordinary'), EVALUATIVE (such
as 'horribly') and MODAL (like 'certainly') - can and do develop in
English into the most unmarked SCALAR intensifiers, while loosing
their original meaning and increasing in possible
collocations. Finally, the development of the intensifier 'really' to
a "fully grammaticalized adjective intensifier" (like 'very') is
discussed in details.

Gerda Hassler's "Crosslinguistic and diachronic remarks on the
grammaticalization of aspect in Romance languages: Location and motion
verbs" (pp. 163-179) deals with the expression of aspect by means of
periphrastic constructions including special forms of locative and
motion verbs of several types. A few arguments are given for different
degrees of grammaticalization of these constructions, and this is
related to other functions of auxiliaries.

The close topic is touched upon by Philippe Bourdin ("The
grammaticalization of deictic directionals into modulators of temporal
distance"; pp. 181-199), who observes the diversity of "logics"
governing the development of ventive ('come') and itive ('go') markers
into the markers of "interval contraction" and/or "interval
expansion". This diversity, he argues, makes it rather difficult to
establish UNIVERSAL grammaticalization paths, the more so that in many
cases it is even more reliable to speak about some "notional
ambivalence" rather than about grammaticalization.

The central claim of Concepcion Company Company's paper
"Grammaticalization and category weakness" (pp. 201-215) is that
grammaticalization is based on the prototypicality of the human
language categories in that it "advances from the margins towards the
focal zone of the category" (p. 212), although not obligatory reaching
the latter. This idea is illustrated with the expansion of overt
direct-object marking in Spanish.

Carol Lord, Foong Ha Yap and Shoichi Iwasaki in their
"Grammaticalization of 'give': African and Asian perspectives"
(pp. 217-235) discuss evolution of the verb 'give' (with the
particular attention to serial verb constructions). A few
grammaticalization paths are established, which include not only the
well- known development of 'give' morphemes into benefactive or
permissive markers, but also the subsequent grammaticalization into
markers of causative, reason, and some other categories.

Marianne Mithun's "An invisible hand at the root of causation: The
role of lexicalization in the grammaticalization of causatives"
(pp. 237-257) is concerned with the grammaticalization of causative
markers from body-part morphemes in languages of North America. The
point is that such a path required lexicalization of noun-verb
complexes, providing a possibility for the reanalysis of "original
nouns" into means/manner prefixes and then, to causative markers.

Colette Grinevald ("Making sense of nominal classification systems:
Noun classifiers and the grammaticalization variable"; pp. 259-275)
takes up the degree of grammaticalization of "noun classifiers" (as
opposed to, say, numeral classifiers or genitive classifiers). It
turns out that although there are a number of different phenomena
which are sometimes covered by this term, they can be represented as
occupying different places on some "grammaticalization axis", so that
this parameter should always be in mind when one compares nominal
classification systems.

"Phono-syntactic conspiracy and beyond: Grammaticalization in spoken
Beijing Mandarin" (pp. 277-292) by Liang Tao provides a detailed
description of the arising of a new pattern in Beijing Mandarin
Chinese, where the numeral 'one', which turns out to be able to be
used without a numeral classifier (contrary to grammatical norms),
nevertheless retains some phonological traces of this classifier. It
is emphasized that this pattern became possible due to the chunking of
the sequence of the numeral and a certain classifier.

Taru Salminen's "Retention of abstract meaning: The essive case and
grammaticalization of polyphony in Finnish" (pp. 293-307) discusses
the so-called "quasi-construction" in Finnish and its semantic
relation to one of its original components, namely the essive case
marker. In common with some of Lehmann's ideas, the importance of the
grammaticalization of a construction is underlined.

Sung-Ock S. Sohn ("The grammaticalization of honorific particles in
Korean"; pp. 309-325) investigates the origin of the subject and
dative honorifics in Korean relating them to some locational noun in
support to the localist hypothesis.

The paper "From logophoric pronoun to discourse particle: A case study
of Finnish and Saami" (pp. 327-344) by Lea Laitinen opens the
"discourse markers" part of the volume. This paper is an attempt to
trace the history of the items 'hAn' and 'sun' in Finnish and Saami
correspondingly and to find the contexts where these items could turn
into discourse particles as well as preconditions for such an

Dagmar Barth-Weingarten and Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen in their "On the
development of final THOUGH: A case of grammaticalization?"
(pp. 345-361) discuss the functioning of 'though' in (seemingly
American) English as a concessive marker and as a discourse marker and
give an analysis of the development of the latter function from the
former. In respect to certain properties of this development, the
authors notice that it can be classified as an instance of
grammaticalization only if the very notion of grammaticalization is
considered to be organized prototypically, so that the evolution of
'though' (as well as of some other discourse markers) should be
"related to more prototypical cases of grammaticalization in terms of
family resemblance" (p. 357).

The paper "Grammaticalization, subjectification and the origin of
phatic markers" (pp. 363-378) by Jose Pinto de Lima explores the
genealogy of phatic markers by the example of Portuguese 'pois', which
passed a long way from a temporal conjunction to a particle with a
"metacommunicative" function. After this case study, other possible
sources for phatic markers are briefly touched.

Heide Wegener's paper "The evolution of the German modal particle
DENN" (pp. 379-394) deals with a similar grammaticalization story of a
discourse marker 'denn', which presumably developed from a deictic
morpheme through the stages of being a temporal and causative adverb.

The collection ends with two theoretical papers. The first is Wallace
Chafe's "Putting grammaticalization in its place" (pp. 395-412), which
contains a model for human language description based on the existence
of a "grammatical structuring" level on a par with the "semantic
structuring" level. Chafe argues that it is the existence of this
level that is responsible for the grammaticalization where the meaning
is built from certain "quasi-meanings" (the idea that brings
grammaticalization together with idiomaticization).

The last paper is "Grammaticalization as an analogue of
hypothetico-deductive thinking" (pp. 413-422) by Esa Itkonen. In this
paper, the author tries to give a general picture of
grammaticalization as a process based on the abduction (instantiated
in reanalysis) and rationality (reflected in extension).


The collection of papers presented in "New Reflections on
Grammaticalization" is certainly outstanding in that it incorporates
much theoretical and empirical work, both providing a large amount of
non-trivial data and outlining directions for future research. Since
this volume is a result of a symposium, its authors should not be in
agreement nor should their work be closely related. This allows a
reader to find a variety of observations which in some sense,
complement each other not only in supporting one or other idea, but
also in forming a notion of the wide range of phenomena covered under
the label 'grammaticalization' and their possible influence on
theories. In connection with this, I should commend the editor's
achievements especially in that how all these quite different papers
are ordered making the impression of a continuum of topics.

This diversity seems to have a seamy side, however. Perhaps, one
possible reason of why so many different facts are accounted under the
rubric of grammaticalization is that this very notion is somewhat
amorphous. Grammaticalization is usually understood in two ways. The
first is the unifying of various processes on the basis of some of
their observable characteristics such as phonological reduction,
increase in frequency etc. The second approach (close to what is
advocated, for example, by Bybee as well as by most theorists
participated in the volume under discussion) postulates the existence
of grammatical meanings (and/or functions) with the origin and
evolution of their expressions being the main topic of the
grammaticalization theory. Although these two understandings are
certainly related, there is no perfect motivation for equating them,
since (i) there are examples of phonological reduction and increase in
frequency, which cannot be considered instances of grammaticalization
(e.g., the use of the formant 'soc-' < 'socialisticheskij'
'socialistic' in the Soviet Russian speech), (ii) in many cases what
is thought to be a grammatical meaning can be used lexically
(cp. 'most' and 'majority' in English; see von Fintel 1995 for a

Evidently, in light of that we cannot identify the two approaches, it
may well be that no serious theoretical account of grammaticalization
is possible until some definite criteria of what belongs (or is likely
to belong) to the domain of grammar are obtained. Thus, for example,
why should we consider the development of evaluative intensifiers into
scalar ones (Lorenz's paper) or the rise of discourse markers to be
(or not to be) instances of grammaticalization if we are not sure that
'very' or 'though' are grammatical formants? Barth-Weingarten and
Couper-Kuhlen suggest that we can think of the development of 'though'
as about non-prototypical grammaticalization - but does this mean that

Maybe, the problem is in that not only grammaticalization may (and
must) affect linguistic theories but also theoretical conceptions and
models may affect our understanding of the grammatical change. This is
an apparent motivation of problems in defining grammaticalization, but
the same goes also with the interpretation of data. Consider, for
example, the former masculine singular nominative adjective inflection
-e in Swedish. As Norde puts it, "it would be incorrect to say that
Modern Swedish -e is the same morpheme as Old Swedish -e, since it no
longer expresses nominative case, yet it continues to denote masculine
gender" (p. 52), hence this change is classified as "functional
reduction". Note, however, that if we accept the view according to
which the nominative is the UNMARKED case, the data may be interpreted
as 'nothing has happened', since although the Swedish case system has
been lost, the unmarked masculine form remained the unmarked masculine
form (and indeed, it would be quite surprising to see, say, a
descendant of the oblique form instead of -e).

With this interdependence of theories and facts in mind, let me turn
to some more concrete problems touched in the volume.

The idea of DEGRAMMATICALIZATION (concerned in the papers by Lehmann,
van der Auwera, Klausenburger, Norde, and Doyle) as a process reversal
to grammaticalization brings us to the same problems as those
discussed above. Nevertheless, even if the existence of
degrammaticalization is taken for granted (as van der Auwera does), it
is almost certainly a marked process, so that the grammaticalization
theorist should take into account that since it is NOT NATURAL for
anything (?) to degrammaticalize, special factors are required for
stimulating such a grammatical change. This makes me doubt that
degrammaticalization can be viewed as something uniform (even if
grammaticalization is such; cf. Traugott 2001).

rather than that of a single word/morpheme has become an important
point in recent studies (e.g., Dahl 1998; Maisak 2002a; see also
Maisak 2002b). This is also reflected in a number of papers of the
volume reviewed here (see especially the contributions of Lehmann and
Salminen). The idea is, of course, productive, and it is a common
place of many papers that some cases of grammaticalization can be
described only in this way. But Lehmann makes a stronger claim that
"the grammaticalization of a construction does not entail the
grammaticalization of any of its component elements" (p. 7). And
further: "If there is an element that mediates the relation between
the constituents of a construction, then grammaticalization of the
construction will involve grammaticalization of this element. But if
there is no such element present, grammaticalization may proceed,
anyway" (ibid.) I believe that THIS is true, and indeed for a long
time I thought that grammaticalization of a lexeme is simply
restoration of compositionality. Thus, for example, in Modern Russian
it is possible to say (1a) as well as (1b), although compositionally
(1a) should be interpreted as a partitive 'three of these soldiers'
(see Lander 2001 for substantiation of this point on the data of
Austronesian languages):

(1) a. dvoe etix soldat
 two these-Genitive soldiers-Genitive
 b. eti dvoe soldat
 these two soldiers-Genitive
 'these two soldiers'

What has happened here, I believe, is the grammaticalization of a
CONSTRUCTION with numerals, which (i) made this construction
conventionalized and uncompositional (in the sense of the Construction
Grammar), (ii) put some constraints on the participants of the
construction (e.g., that the head must be a numeral; therefore
separating the category of numerals); (iii) while fixing the
construction, weakened constraints on the position of
demonstratives. What is important here is that the grammaticalization
of a construction leads to the formation of grammatically relevant
categories, and in some cases this may be a closed class. Now, when
the compositionality recovers, this small class is recategorized and
grammaticalized. Thus, we can have grammaticalization of a
construction with or without (subsequent) grammaticalization of some
of its components, and this goes in line with Lehmann's argumentation.
But... there ARE cases where items are grammaticalized without
linguistic constructions. Thus, I cannot imagine one concrete
construction where, say, Indonesian 'sahaya' (meaning 'servant') has
grammaticalized into 'saya' (meaning 'I'). So we also have
grammaticalization of morphemes/words with or without
grammaticalization of a construction. So neither the role of a
construction nor the role of a word/morpheme should be overacted. But
I think that this is in fact the beginning of the long way towards the
well-established TYPOLOGY of grammaticalization.

The CONTEXTS OF GRAMMATICALIZATION also received a considerable
attention in the volume (see papers by Heine, Diewald, Sohn, Laitinen
among some others). The basic idea is that some LINGUISTIC contexts
may "trigger" grammaticalization of certain items, which are then,
being already grammaticalized, can expand to other contexts, more
prototypical for their original meaning (see Company's
contribution). Now, in connection with the previous discussion, one
may ask what are the relations between "constructions" and "contexts",
and it is surprising that this question has not been asked in the
volume. I believe, however, that these are simply different views (so
for instance, a construction may be grammaticalized in a context or as
a context). But even then, this cannot be the whole story, since as
we have seen in the case of the grammaticalization of pronouns, there
can be NO linguistic (vs. extralinguistic) contexts for
grammaticalization, so again we see that the theories proposed work
only for a part of data.

Finally, one very interesting topic, which was, however, only briefly
touched upon in a few papers, is PRECONDITIONS for a concrete
grammatical change. Note that there is a more or less established
idea that grammaticalization paths are universally accessible (as is
reflected in the "cognitive" status of diachronic semantic maps; see
van der Auwera & Plungian 1988; Haspelmath (forthc.) for discussion).
A number of papers in the volume (including the contributions of
Diewald, Laitinen, and some others) suggest, however, that a given
development of a linguistic item may depend on the very structure of a
language: thus, for example, the grammaticalization of the morphemes
meaning 'hand' to causative markers described by Mithun would be
hardly possible if North American languages were dependent-marking.

As the very fact of having had the conference "New Reflections on
Grammaticalization 2" at the University of Amsterdam (April 2002)
shows, the grammaticalization theory (or theories?) is not
futureless. And applying the principle of retention to the linguistic
theory, obviously this volume already contain preconditions for future


Dahl, O. (1998) Grammaticalization and the life- cycles of
constructions. Keynote lecture at the 17th Scandinavian Conference of
Linguistics, August 20-22, 1998. [Available at:]

Giacalone Ramat, A. & P.J. Hopper (eds.) (1998a) Introduction. In
Giacalone Ramat & Hopper 1998b, 1- 11.

Giacalone Ramat, A. & P.J. Hopper (eds.) (1998b) The Limits of
Grammaticalization. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Haspelmath, M. (forthc.) The geometry of grammatical meaning: Semantic
maps and cross-linguistic comparison. To appear in M. Tomasello (ed.),
The New Psychology of Language, vol. 2, Mahwah: Lawrence
Erlbaum. [Available at:]

Lander, Yu.A. (2001) Austronesian partitives. In V.B. Kasevich (ed.),
6th International Conference on the Languages of Far East, South-East
Asia and West Africa: Proceedings and Abstracts of Papers,
St.Petersburg: SPbGU, 263-272.

Maisak, T.A. (2002a) Tipologija grammatikalizacii konstrukcij s
glagolami dvizhenija i glagolami pozicii. [Grammaticalization paths of
motion and posture verbs.] Ph.D Dissertation, Moscow State University.

Maisak, T.A. (2002b) Review of Heine, B. & T. Kuteva, World Lexicon of
Grammaticalization. LINGUIST List 13.2166. 

Pagliuca, W. (ed.) (1994) Perspectives on
Grammaticalization. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Traugott, E.C. (2001) Legitimate counterexamples to
unidirectionality. Paper presented at Freiburg University, October 12,
2001. [Available at]

Traugott, E.C. & B. Heine (eds.) (1991) Approaches to
Grammaticalization. 2 vols. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

van der Auwera, J. & V. Plungian (1998) Modality's semantic
map. Linguistic Typology 2.1: 79-124.

von Fintel, K. (1995) The formal semantics of grammaticalization. In
J.N. Beckman (ed.), Proceedings of NELS 25, vol. 2, Amherst: GLSA,
175- 189. [Available at:] 


Yury A. Lander is a research fellow in the Institute of Oriental
Studies, Moscow. His current interests include the typology of noun
phrases, Austronesian, Australian and Slavic linguistics. i
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