Exaptation from the perspective of construction morphology

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In this paper, we explore how the process of exaptation can be modelled within a constructional framework of morphology. Assuming that constructions (of varying levels of schematicity and complexity) are organized in constructional networks, we consider issues related to ‘obsolescence’ and ‘novelty’ using a model of morphology that draws on the work of Booij (2010). We present various case studies of linguistic changes in a number of Germanic languages (in both their standard and non-standard varieties), exploring in each case the extent to which the changes constitute cases of exaptation. For each case study, we also consider how these changes can be understood within a constructional approach to language. Our focus is on constructional morphology, though some changes involve neoanalyses of larger (syntactic) structures. The discussion also makes reference to issues in diachronic construction grammar, particularly the notion of constructional change as outlined by Traugott & Trousdale (2013).


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