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Title: Degrammaticalization
Written By: Muriel Norde

Grammaticalization is a well-attested process of linguistic change in which
a lexical item becomes a function word, which may be further reduced to a
clitic or affix. Proponents of the universality of grammaticalization have
usually argued that it is unidirectional and have thus found it a useful
tool in linguistic reconstruction. In this book Professor Norde shows that
change is reversible on all levels: semantic, morphological, syntactic, and
phonological. As a consequence, the alleged unidirectionality of
grammaticalization is not a reliable reconstructional tool, even if
degrammaticalization is a rare phenomenon.

Degrammaticalization, she argues, is essentially different from
grammaticalization: it usually comprises a single change, examples being
shifts from affix to clitic, or from function word to lexical item. And
where grammaticalization can be seen as a process, degrammaticalization is
often the by-product of other changes. Nevertheless, she shows that it can
be described, like grammaticalization, in a principled way, in order to
establish whether a change in a word has been from more to less grammatical
or vice versa, and the stages by which it has become so. Using data from
different languages she constructs a typology of degrammaticalization
changes. She explains why degrammaticalization is so rare and why some
linguists have such strongly negative feelings about the possibility of its
existence. She adds to the understanding of grammaticalization and makes a
significant contribution to methods of linguistic reconstruction and the
study of language change. She writes clearly, aiming to be understood by
advanced undergraduate students as well as appealing to scholars and
graduate researchers in historical linguistics.

Publication Year: 2009
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Review: Read the review
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Linguistic Theories
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Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0199207933
ISBN-13: 9780199207930
Pages: 256
Prices: U.S. $ 39.95

Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0199207925
ISBN-13: 9780199207923
Pages: 256
Prices: U.S. $ 99.00