Chapter 1, Hopper and Traugott
Handout for LING/SARS 319/519
Get print version for this document here.
- The first issue to be dealt with in discussions of Grammaticalization is
the problem of Polysemy: (a.k.a. multiple
When AUX expresses immediate future, it derives from a motion VB in a
certain CONTEXT, and this does not apply to other contexts. The reduction
of going to to gonna does not happen in the context go
| going to go (go to VB) AUX || --> gonna go
| going to London (go to NP) (Motion) || *gonna
- Grammaticalization: focuses on how grammatical constructions
- are used
- how they shape the language (i.e. affect the history and
grammar of the language.
We are concerned with the question of
- how discrete boundaries between grammatical categories are.
- the interdependence of structure and use
- the fixed and less fixed in language.
There is a tension between unconstrained lexical structure and
constrained morphosyntax and morphological structure.
We are interested in providing a conceptual structure for a principled
account of the relative indeterminacy in language and the basic
non-discreteness of grammatical categories.
Grammaticalization is therefore 2
- the actual phenomena that the theoretical framework of Grammaticalization seeks
the processes involved in Grammaticalization .
- Since Saussure, there has been a dichotomy between
synchronic linguistics: fixed, static structure; language is stable,
- diachronic linguistics: set of changes linking successive stages of
language.; discreteness is called into question by variability theory
(sociolinguistics) but also by study of Grammaticalization .
- Grammaticalization can be studied 2 ways:
- historical approach
- in terms of pragmatics, discourse, usage, fluidity.
Harper & Traugott combine these, but emphasize the historical. (I would
try to balance these more: for a
diglossic language, you can see things both ways. HS)
- Gonna/going to illustrates several facets typical of Grammaticalization .
- change in a very local context: purposive directional construction
with non-finite complements:
- I am going to do X (travelling, leaving)
- *I am going to London (to do X) (directionality with locative
- Change is possible because there is an inference of futurity
with purposives: I am Xing to do Y means Y is in the
future. Without overt directional phrase futurity takes over,
and becomes salient .
- Reanalysis: Shift from purposive
to AUX (immed. future.)
involves reanalysis of
- of the 'be going to' phrase
- of the verb: [I am going [to marry Bill]] --> [I am going to marry
- Aspect changes from progressive aspect to immediate future.
- Reanalysis is discoverable (manifest) only when VB following be
gonna is incompatible with purposive meaning, e.g.
the contexts of "be going to" have been generalized or analogized to
previously unavailable contexts.
- I am going to like Bill
- I am going to go to London
- Once reanalysis happens be going to can undergo
phonological reduction typical of AUX:
is ---> 's, do not ---> don't, can ---> cn, have --> 've
so going to --> gonna i.e. there is no phrasal bracket
between [go]-[ing]-[to], it's just [gonna];
ARE ERASED. and therefore we are at a whole new level of
analysis: a phrase consisting of lexical items has been replaced by a new
monomorphemic item with different meaning, and perhaps grammatical
"meaning" as well.
- These stages all coexist in modern English, even though the process
began in Middle English.
The original purposive meaning continues to constrain the use of AUX.
be gonna is the future of intention, plan, schedule, and can
occur where will can't:
- If you're gonna be obstinate about it, we'll have to take another
- * If you will be obstinate about it, we'll have to take another look.
The persistence of the older meaning gives a kind of overlap; they
coexist, and the new one reinforces the older meaning.
- The Main verb go is rather general; it means any kind
motion away from the speaker, so such a verb can be recruited to to
participate in this process. (A more specific kind of verb couldn't
used for this! )
- During Grammaticalization some of go's concrete meanings have been lost
("bleached out") such as the notions of motion and
directionality but new meanings have been added: they
- more abstract
- speaker-based (i.e. temporal meanings are based in speaker time; the
meanings are more subjective, more colloquial; they express a point of
view (?), or a motivation.
- What is a Grammaticalized form? Let's distinguish between
- content words: lexical items, 's, VB's, adjectives.
- Function words: prepositions, pronouns, quantifiers, demonstratives.
- they indicate relationships between words (lexical items)
- have as their source, originally, lexical items: e.g. modern
E. "while" comes from "þa hwile þe" (the time that).. (Like
pootu "time" --> -ppa as in poorappa 'when s.o.
Types (or classifications) of Grammaticalized'd forms:
Another way to see this is as a cline of grammaticalization:
shift is not abrupt, but moves slowly, in stages. transitions are gradual
(similar in type across languages.), such as:
- Not all grammaticalized'd forms are independent words: they may be
bound forms or perhaps they must be bound forms (i.e.
are or must be attached to some other morpheme.)
- Or, there may be a continuum, with clusters or focal points:
Lexical >-------A--------B---------C---------> Grammatical
That is, the "path" from lexical item to grammatical item is not
a smooth, interrupted one, but there may be "stages" along the
way, with "rest-stops" or intermediate points in the Grammaticalization
process. It's slow, and steady, but with pauses. At those pause points,
we may discern certain features.
If we see Grammaticalization as the end point, then its features are:
- back (lexical item, the back of the body) --> in back of (behind) -->
- Noun ---> relational phrase --> adverb --> preposition.
- Tamil: pin --> pinnaale , or pakkam+le --> pakkattule; or -il+irundu
--> lerundu ('ablative').
- These things change from locational (spatial) to temporal.
There is disagreement as to where, how many points there are on the
cline. Some argue that the path should be:
context item (lexical item)--> grammatical word
--> clitic --> inflectional suffix.
as in X full of Y --> X-ful --> hopeful.
Hopper & Traugott are much concerned with the cline of grammaticality, and
its conceptualization. Some (Heine) are concerned with how one thing
seems to imply another; whether there are channels that are
followed (paths), or push-pull chains (?), or
H&T say that at least we must recognize:
- There is an order, with points ,
- the order is unidirectional
- there may be channels (Heine) or paths along which forms travel
- certain things happen at the cluster points (e.g.
"bleeding" of meaning)
- There may be chains with internal structure and/or
relational patterns (X implies Y; A leads to B; C determines D),
This needs to be worked out (below).
One more point: note the dichotomy between the periphrastic and the
have waited waited TENSE
of the X X's POSSESSION
more curious curioser COMPARISON
What starts out as periphrastic becomes "synthetic", i.e. is realized
by affixation; the diachronic tendency seems to be toward affixation.
Periphrastic constructions (they say) coalesce over time and become morphological.
- Definite articles becoming affixes in Scandinavian, in Istro-Romanian, e.g. Danish -en
and -et ( dreng-en 'boy' and hus-et 'the house'
are definite articles that were previously postposed in Old Norse. Also
passive as in Scandinavian.
- Use of aux. verbs to form tenses periphrastically, such as Hindi pres.
tense, Romance languages use of formerly periphrastic tenses e.g. cantare habemus
(Latin. we have to sing) --> Ital. canteremo 'we will sing.' (
cantarabemus --> cantaremos .. ).
- Maybe Tamil -aam modal is an example of this kind of
aakum i.e. pookal + aakum 'going will happen' --> pookalaam
's.o. may go.'
Second diachronic tendency that makes periphrasis/bondedness
distinction important is renewal i.e. tendency for periphrastic forms
to replace morphological ones over time, in a kind of cycle, which they illustrate
with examples from I-E, Latin, and French on pg. 9. The peripheral. form
becomes reduced and morphologized, then it is replaced by another peripheral.
form, which is then morphologized, and which is then it is replaced by another peripheral
form, etc. Each new form has some nuance of meaning diff. from the previous, but
eventually it takes over, coalesces/reduces, and then is replaced. (Cite Hodge
1970 for many examples of this; see D.N.S. Bhat on evolution of tense forms
in S. Dravidian, which show incorporation of forms of iru as past
tense markers, which then get reduced and require renewal.)
More examples .
- Let's (let us) --> lets (let it be the case that; let it happen that)
with a meaning of 'adhortative' or 'first person imperative' or even 'condescending
encouragement' of 2nd person ("lets eat our liver now, Betty").
This shows various stages:
H&T show this as part of a tendency in English toward phrasal expression of modalities
of the verb, rather than morphological as in Old English (example p. 14), e.g. use
of may, be going to, keep Verb-ing.
- H&T's next example is of a process in Ewe very similar to Tamil!
There is a verb [bè] which means 'say' which is being grammaticalized into
a complementizer whenever a verb other than [bè] is used
in the sentence: this is obviously similar to use of Tamil en- as
a complementizer ( enru ) such as 'He said that he would come' i.e.
avan naan vareen-NNu sonnaan
For more discussion of this in Tamil, look
As they note, the verbs involved are verbs of speaking, cognition and perception;
they are similar to a verb meaning 'say' because they can have objects
that are propositions. Same in Tamil/Dravidian, where the verbs
that can use enru as the complementizer or embedding marker are
verbs like nene, nambu, utteesamaa iru etc. ('think, hope, have
the intention, etc.') But, the meaning and the morphology of the 'say' verb
(in both Ewe and Tamil!) is essentially lost in the Grammaticalization of it as
complementizer. In Tamil, of course, it also is phonologically
reduced by loss of the initial vowel e . Syntactically,
as they illustrate on pg. 16, there is also shift from [x[y]] to [x[y[z]]].
In Tamil, it would be change from :
[[avan naan vareen]-NNu sonnaan] .
[[[avan naan vareen]-NNu] sonnaan] .
- Agreement Markers. Here H&T give an example of an already grammaticalized
more grammatical. They give example from French where il which
is the masc. pronoun has become (in non-standard Fr.) AGR and is bound to the verb,
not signaling gender:
ma femme il est venu
my wife AGR has come
(This example not very satisfying to me.)
How about the example of Tamil accusative
marking becoming the marker of definite-ness? as in:
| naan pustakam paDicceen || 'I read a book'
| naan pustakatte paDicceen || 'I read the
Summing up: Grammaticalization raises many questions, many of which are as pertinent
for Tamil as they are for EWE or for other languages. I wonder whether
we focus too much in descriptions on standard languages and
ignore the colloquial, where we find (e.g. in English) interesting
things that tend to be ignored; in Tamil we don't have this luxury if we
are to adequately describe the language most people speak but don't treat
seriously. Perhaps grammar is a way-station, constantly being reorganized, and
Grammaticalization is a voyage that makes stops from time to time.