publication . Article . 1999

Why is grammaticalization irreversible?

Martin Haspelmath;
Open Access
  • Published: 01 Jan 1999
Abstract
Grammaticalization, i.e. the change by which lexical categories become functional categories, is overwhelmingly irreversible. Prototypical functional categories never become prototypical lexical categories, and less radical changes against the general directionality of grammaticalization are extremely rare. Although the pervasiveness of grammaticalization has long been known, the question of why this change is irreversible has not been asked until fairly recently. However, no satisfactory explanation has been proposed so far. Irreversibility cannot be attributed to the lack of predictability, to the interplay of the motivating factors of economy and clarity, or ...
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free text keywords: grammaticalization, language change, Linguistics and Language, Language and Linguistics, Psychology, Language acquisition, Imperfect, Part of speech, Language change, Linguistics, Grammaticalization, Speech community, Historical pragmatics, Maxim
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