Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 17:20:34 +0200 From: Margaret Dunham Subject: What makes Grammaticalization? A Look from its Fringes and its Components
EDITORS: Wiemer, Björn; Bisang, Walter; Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. TITLE: What makes Grammaticalization? SUBTITLE: A Look from its Fringes and its Components SERIES: Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs 158 PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter YEAR: 2004
Margaret D. Dunham, Laboratoire de Langues et Civilisations à Tradition Orale, CNRS, Villejuif, France
This 354 page book is a collection of 11 papers on diverse aspects of grammaticalization. It is divided into 4 parts: General issues; On building grammar from below and from above: Between phonology and pragmatics; Grammatical derivation; and The role of lexical semantics and of constructions. The book ends with a subject index, an author index and a language index.
The first paper, "What makes grammaticalization? An appraisal of its components and its fringes", by Björn Wiemer and Walter Bisang, is an excellent introduction to the book as a whole, separately presenting the different concepts treated in the book, while noting how each author's contribution fits in.
The paper begins with a short history of studies in grammaticalization. It then goes on to present the main purpose of the book, which is to look at grammaticalization from a broader perspective than as defined by such authors as Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991), Hopper and Traugott (1993) Bybee, Perkins and Pagliuca (1994) and Lehmann ( 1995). This broader perspective considers grammaticalization not only as the study of changes along a "cline", from morphosyntactically more complex to more reduced expression formats, but takes into consideration the "fringe areas": pragmatics, phonology and the lexicon.
The paper ends with an explanation of what led to the book's existence: a workshop on the difference between grammaticalization and lexicalization, organized by Björn Wiemer in Constance, Germany, from the 1st to the 3rd of February, 2001. The main outcome of the workshop was the recognition of the need to take into consideration the distributional properties of linguistic units and the interaction between stems and diverse functional morphemes.
The second paper, "Lexicalization and grammaticization: Opposite or orthogonal?" by Nikolaus P. Himmelmann, undertakes to define the criteria necessary for distinguishing between lexicalization and grammaticization. He starts out by giving the most commonly encountered definitions for lexicalization and grammaticization, which usually appeal either to the "box" metaphor or to the "process" metaphor.
The box metaphor is roughly described as the idea that the lexicon and the grammar are two large boxes, and lexicalization and grammaticization concern elements that move from one box to the other.
Following the process metaphor, lexicalization is most often used to refer to cases of univerbation and fossilization. The first is where two or more lexical items frequently occurring together become one item, as for 'cupboard', or 'brainstorming', and the second is where morphologically complex forms become unanalyzable wholes. Grammaticization usually refers to a lexical item which develops into a grammatical item, such as the word for 'go' which has become a future marker, or when a grammatical item becomes a more grammatical item, the author giving the example of a directional marker which becomes a dative marker and later on an accusative marker.
The author maintains that it is crucial to not only focus on the grammaticizing element, because it is the grammaticizing element in its syntagmatic context which is grammaticized, and thus it is constructions and not individual lexical items which are the proper domain of grammaticization.
The author concludes that the essential difference between lexicalization and grammaticization is that in the first case, it is a string of items which is conventionalized, whereas in the latter case, the process of conventionalization concerns a construction, containing at least one fixed item, the grammaticizing element, and a growing class of items which enter into the construction.
The third paper, "Exploring grammaticalization from below", by Livio Gaeta, opens Part II of the book, "On building grammar from below and from above: Between phonology and pragmatics". The author questions the assumption that there is a diachronic tendency towards building up grammar, but asserts that grammaticalization theory is helpful for demonstrating that grammar is not merely an aggregate of fortuitous changes, but that the changes are well motivated, and dependant on the way language users perceive the world around them.
The first part of his paper discusses the reanalysis of phonological structures and rules, and disputes the claim that phonological items having grammatical significance (such as German umlauting, for example) belong to the lowly domain of "morphologization" rather than the more important domain of "grammaticalization". The author gives several examples of the reanalysis of phonological rules, taken from various languages such as several Italian dialects, Breton and German.
In the second part of his paper, the author asserts the central role of morphology, and argues for a morphocentric view of grammaticalization, stating that language change is often of a centripetal nature, and not of a unidirectional nature.
The fourth paper, "Grammaticalization vs. pragmaticalization? The development of pragmatic markers in German and Italian", by Susanne Günthner and Katrin Mutz, studies function words connecting larger parts of spontaneous discourse in German and Italian from a pragmatic perspective. These function words, the subjunctors 'wobei' and 'obwohl' in German, and modifying suffixes in Italian, have developed discourse- pragmatic functions where their functional scope has extended from the morphological and sentence-syntactical level to the level of discourse and speech act. Through the analysis of examples taken from historical sources as well as from present-day spontaneous speech, the authors argue that the emergence of discourse-pragmatic functions in suffixes, adverbs, conjunctions, etc. demonstrate that narrow concepts of grammaticalization, based on morphosyntactic criteria, are not sufficient for explaining processes involved in the development of pragmatic markers, and that an extended model of grammaticalization is necessary, which takes into account changes in function on the discourse-pragmatic level. In their view, it is necessary to distinguish between the different kinds of changes leading to grammaticalization, namely morphologization, syntacticization and pragmaticization.
In the fifth paper, "Grammaticalization without coevolution of form and meaning: The case of tense-aspect-modality in East and mainland Southeast Asia", Walter Bisang shows how two salient typological properties of these languages: lack of obligatory grammatical categories and comparatively weak correlation between the lexicon and morphosyntax, lead to pragmatics being more than usually relevant; the nonexistence of morphological paradigms; and the nonconvergent development of form and meaning. This latter characteristic is important for explaining the wide diffusion of grammaticalization processes in the grammars of East and mainland Southeast Asian languages. The author illustrates these traits using the verb 'come to have' in Khmer and Hmong, and verb-final '-le' and sentence- final 'le' in Chinese.
The sixth paper, "The rise of an indefinite article: The case of Macedonian 'eden'", by Daniel Weiss, examines the current use of 'eden' "one" in contemporary standard Macedonian, where it can be used not only as a numeral but also as an indefinite pronoun, possibly being grammaticalized into an indefinite article.
The author explores several possible grammaticalization channels for 'eden': the quasi-universal tendency whereby indefinite articles originate in indefinite pronouns, which in their turn may usually be traced back to the numeral 'one'. The second grammaticalization channel concerns the impact of discourse structure on the acceptability and optionality of 'eden'. The third possibility concerns the degree of definiteness and of topicality. The fourth possibility concerns the expansion of the distinctive function, where 'eden' serves as a sort of intensifier, and can be combined with abstract as well as concrete nouns. The fifth and final grammaticalization channel mentioned is when the role of referential status is reanalyzed, where the element begins by referring to a quantity, and goes on to mark genericity. The author concludes that the distinctive function of 'eden' is to single out, render more distinguishable, one referent from a set of similar referents, a function which is more pronounced in predicative and non-specific uses than in specific and generic reference.
Part III, "Grammatical derivation", begins with the seventh paper, "Grammaticalization via extending derivation", by Volkmar Lehmann. The author points out that processes in grammaticalization can comprise a mere alteration in distribution and functions, a change from lexical to grammatical status without any change in external form. To illustrate this point, he takes the case of the development of aspect in Slavonic. He begins by tackling the problem of the characterization of the grammatical nature of Russian aspect, and Slavonic aspect generally, namely whether it should be considered an inflectional or a derivational phenomenon. The author argues that it is possible to account for these cases in the same manner as Walter Bisang for East and mainland Southeast Asian languages, which is by considering them as functions which are highly inferential in character, which show no changes in formal substance, but which show full distributional expansion, and thus constitute an argument in favor of functionally based grammaticalization
The eighth paper, "Grammaticalization the derivational way: The Russian aspectual prefixes 'po-', 'za-', 'ot-'" by Katherina Böttger, describes a small part of the process of the development of Russian aspect, namely the development of the three prefixes noted in the title. Building on the previous paper by V. Lehmann, the author describes how these prefixes expanded in interaction with the lexical-actional function of the verb stems first as lexical prefixes and, later, also as aspectual, and therefore grammatical, prefixes. She further describes how these prefixes went through several stages in their development: firstly fulfilling only a spatial function, then also fulfilling an aspectual function, and thirdly also partly fulfilling a temporal function.
The ninth paper, "The role of predicate meaning in the development of reflexivity" by Ekkehard König and Letizia Vezzosi, explores the ways in which the compatibility between the reflexive marker and a growing number of verbs shaped the evolution of the reflexive marker in English and other languages. They begin by exploring the restrictions which exist on the applicability of the reflexive marker to different semantic categories of verbs, namely "other-directed" and "non-other-directed" predicates. They then show that grammaticalization happens in specific constructions, in certain onset contexts, under certain conditions. They identify certain contexts where the need for disambiguation led to the development of complex reflexive anaphors in English, where they are the result of a fusion between personal pronouns and intensifiers. Addressing the question of why such changes happen in some languages but not in others, they hypothesize that in the case of English, contact with Celtic languages may have facilitated the evolution.
The tenth paper, "Modals and the boundaries of grammaticalization: the case of Russian, Polish and Serbian-Croation" by Björn Hansen, describes modals in Slavonic languages and attempts to account for their development following the parameters of grammaticalization established by Lehmann. The author determines modals by locating them on a grammaticalization chain, extending from content words to fully-fledged modal auxiliaries. He posits that modals can be divided into several categories, depending on their semantic and formal properties, ranging from central to peripheral. According to Hansen, Slavonic modals show a medium degree of grammaticalization: they retain their status of more or less autonomous units and do not coalesce with the main verb, and show no specific morphological or syntactic properties, which leads him to state that, contrary to the modals in many Germanic languages, the grammaticalization of Slavonic modals came to a relatively early halt.
In the final article, "The evolution of passives as grammatical constructions in Northern Slavic and Baltic languages", Björn Wiemer shows that the comparison between Northern Slavic and Baltic languages is useful for observing different stages in grammaticalization, as, even though they share a large amount of morphosyntactic techniques and markers, the central factors that determine the grammatical status of these properties lies in the way they fit into passive constructions.
The author notes that the usual grammaticalization parameters are inadequate for describing the development of passives in these languages, as passives are constructions, and as such, cannot be described in terms of morphologization. Furthermore, passives are particular in that they are never obligatory, speakers can always chose to use an active construction. Wiemer concludes with a number of criteria that could be used to account for the degree of grammaticality of passives, instead of those from morpheme based grammaticalization theory
The high level of expertise in the various domains covered by the papers in this book make it an important contribution to the field of grammaticalization studies. An unfortunate hurdle to the understanding of many of the papers is the poor level of English. Faulty grammar and a lack of punctuation make it necessary to re-read some of the sentences many times. However, it is possible to look upon some of the more interesting formulations as contributions to the study of contact-induced grammaticalization.
In my opinion, the major contribution of this volume to grammaticalization theory lies in its search for ways in which to integrate problematic elements such as constructions and expression formats, as well as in its efforts to establish what does or does not belong to the domain of the theory. The result is a clearer notion of how to broaden the theory, making it possible to take into account all the processes involved in diachronic grammatical change and the emergence of grammatical systems.
Bybee, Joan L., Revere Perkins, and William Pagliuca. 1994. The Evolution of Grammar: Tense, Aspect, and Modality in the Languages of the World. Chicago-London: Chicago University Press.
Heine, Bernd, Ulrike Claudi, and Friederike Hünnemeyer. 1991. Grammaticalization: A Conceptual Framework. Chicago-London: University of Chicago Press.
Hopper, Paul J., and Elisabeth C. Traugott. 1993. Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lehmann, Christian. 1995. Thoughts on Grammaticalization. (LINCOM Studies in Theoretical Linguistics 1.) Munich-Newcastle: Lincom Europa.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Margaret Dunham carries out research in linguistics at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). Her doctorate consisted in a monograph on Langi, a hitherto undocumented Bantu language spoken in Tanzania. She is currently documenting a closely related language, Nyilamba, in order to clarify certain areal typological features, certainly due in part to long contact with surrounding Cushitic languages.