Grammaticalization of ‘give’ in Slavic between drift and contact

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This paper gives an overview of grammaticalized constructions involving ‘give’ in the Slavic languages. The most widespread functions concern causatives ranging from permissive (‘letting’) to factitive (‘making’ or ‘having’) and a modal maker constructed with a reflexive (‘let itself’ > ‘it is possible’). These constructions are most widely developed in the West Slavic (Polish, Czech, Slovak and Sorbian) and Western South Slavic (Slovenian and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian) languages. In Russian and the other East Slavic Languages Ukrainian and Belarusian, the use of hortative and imperative markers is more conspicuous. Further developments include the use of an existential construction closely modeling German ‘es gibt’ and an isolated optative function in Sorbian, as well as a volative construction in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian. While some of these developments reflect well known grammaticalization paths, others more clearly reflect idiosyncratic areal patterns converging with German models. An attempt is made to evaluate possible factors and pathways in the development of these constructions, paying special attention to the factor of language contact.


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