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The influence of constructions in grammaticalization

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Abstract

In this chapter it will be argued that a proper understanding of grammaticalization has to take into account the driving force of lexically underspecified constructions. Using evidence from an extensive qualitative and quantitative corpus study in the<i> York-Toronto-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Old English Prose</i> (YCOE), it will be suggested that the OE demonstrative <i>se</i> developed into the definite article due to the emergence of an abstract, syntactic, and lexically underspecified macro-construction with a determination slot for marking definiteness in early Old English. This slot becomes a functionally exploitable structural category itself, which leads to the recruitment of the demonstrative as a default slot filler (= definite article). What has traditionally been interpreted as a case of grammaticalization on the morphosyntactic level (OE demonstrative <i>se</i> &#62; ModE article <i>the</i>) is at the same time a case of &#8220;grammatical constructionalization.&#8221; The demonstrative does not grammaticalize on its own but in the context of an emerging schematic construction, which is formalized as the [[Xdeterminative]DETERMINATION &#43; [Zcn]HEAD]NP&#123;def&#125;&#8211; construction. The emergence of this construction is best explained by a usage-based, form-driven, analogical model of morphosyntactic change which takes into account the frequency of linguistic surface forms (i.e. concrete tokens) and the formal influence of taxonomically related constructions.

References

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