Toward a constructional framework for research on language change
Over the past two decades usage-based models of language as a system of form-meaning pairs (‘signs’) have been developed (e.g. Goldberg 1995, 2006; Croft 2001). These models are known as Construction Grammars. Historical approaches using constructionalist frameworks (e.g. Bergs & Diewald 2008; Barðdal 2008) have concentrated on accounting for grammatical change. In this paper I present a framework that includes and extends prior work on both grammaticalization and lexicalization (see also Traugott & Trousdale 2013). Because a construction is a sign, the framework requires the researcher to focus on form and meaning equally. Because a construction may be specific or abstract and schematic, each micro-construction can be shown to have its own history within the constraints of larger schemas. Schemas and networks provide a principled way of thinking about analogy. The development of patterns and of changes in productivity are highlighted in constructionalist frameworks. Therefore the focus in this paper is on expansion (see Himmelmann 2004) rather than on the reduction often associated with many earlier models of grammaticalization and lexicalization (e.g. Lehmann 1995; Brinton & Traugott 2005). Expansion and reduction are shown to be intertwined. Therefore unidirectionality has a less prominent theoretical status than is often assigned to it in non-constructionalist models of language change.