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LINGUIST List 23.4404

Mon Oct 22 2012

Diss: Germanic/ General Ling/ Historical Ling/ Text/Corpus Ling/ Danish/ Norwegian Bokmål/ Swedish: Beijering: 'Expressions of epistemic modality in Mainland Scandinavian...'

Editor for this issue: Lili Xia <lxialinguistlist.org>

Date: 21-Oct-2012
From: Karin Beijering <k.beijeringgmail.com>
Subject: Expressions of epistemic modality in Mainland Scandinavian. A study into the lexicalization-grammaticalization-pragmaticalization interface.
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Institution: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Program: Center for Language and Cognition
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2012

Author: Karin Beijering

Dissertation Title: Expressions of epistemic modality in Mainland Scandinavian. A study into the lexicalization-grammaticalization-pragmaticalization interface.

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
                            Historical Linguistics
                            Text/Corpus Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Danish (dan)
                            Norwegian Bokmål (nob)
                            Swedish (swe)
Language Family(ies): Germanic

Dissertation Director:
Jack Hoeksema
Muriel Norde

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation investigates the rise of epistemic expressions in
relation to different types of language change, viz. lexicalization,
grammaticalization and pragmaticalization. Four case studies from the
domain of epistemic modality in the Mainland Scandinavian languages,
i.e. Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, are discussed. These case
studies are concerned with the modal auxiliaries 'must/may', the
interrogative/epistemic adverb 'I wonder', the epistemic adverb 'maybe',
and the discourse marker 'I think.' These epistemic phenomena pose
problems for traditional analyses within the framework of
grammaticalization studies, because they are all at the interface of
(most current definitions of) grammaticalization, lexicalization and

This thesis presents a novel model of analysis and a unified account of
language change centered on the notion of a composite change. A
composite change is composed of formal reanalysis and semantic re-
interpretation, accompanying primitive changes at different linguistic
levels (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics,
discourse/pragmatics), and the concomitants of these (micro-)changes.
These (micro-)changes cluster with respect to their converging
properties (=interfaces), but stand out in case they are diverging
properties (=unique properties). This is the essence of the clustering
approach to language change. Clusters of correlated changes may
correspond to a composite change traditionally labeled
'grammaticalization', 'lexicalization' or 'pragmaticalization', but they may
also pattern in alternative ways. This is what happens in the case
studies in the present thesis.

The case studies in this dissertation defy strict categorization.
Therefore, it is proposed to give up the idea that linguistic changes
can be assigned to predefined categories. Instead, it is argued that it is
more sensible to reduce lexicalization, grammaticalization and
pragmaticalization to their basic mechanisms of change, primitive
changes and the concomitants of these (micro-)changes. The
advantage of a clustering approach, as opposed to categorization, is
that one can identify prototypical and marginal instances of
lexicalization, grammaticalization and pragmaticalization, as well as the
interfaces between these different types of language change.

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