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Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice

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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach

By Rudolf Botha

Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"


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Academic Paper


Title: At the Interface of Grammaticalisation and Lexicalisation: The Case of Take Prisoner
Author: Eva Berlage
Institution: Universität Hamburg
Linguistic Field: Semantics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Brinton & Traugott (2005) and Brinton (2008) have suggested that light verb constructions of the type take a look (at) are instances of grammaticalisation. This article shows that this is because the emphasis has been on the verb take. Exploring the light verb construction take prisoner, we see that one and the same construction involves both lexicalisation and grammaticalisation processes. For grammaticalisation, the focus will be on the semantic bleaching of take and the productivity of the pattern take + NP. For the lexicalisation of the construction, we will focus on the increasing fixedness of the collocation take prisoner, evident from the decreasing acceptability of the pattern make prisoner, and on the decategorialisation of the original NP prisoner, which is manifested in the loss of plural -s inflection in prisoner. The article further investigates the decategorialisation of prisoner, revealing that the word order of prisoner(s) relative to its complement NP (e.g. take the men prisoner(s) vs take prisoner(s) the men) has a considerable effect on the speed of plural s-deletion.

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This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 16, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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