Between word formation and meaning change

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In diachronic lexicology, word formation (henceforth: WF) is generally treated as one of three strictly distinct types of processes of lexical innovation, the two others being meaning change (MCh) and borrowing. A unitary theoretical framework based on Construction Grammer and integrating different types of lexical innovation will show that, from an onomasiological point of view, WF and MCh in particular are only two ways of switching from a construction 1 expressing a concept C1 to a formally and semantically related construction 2 expressing a concept C2. From this perspective it is not surprising to find multiple combination, intertwining and interaction between MCh and WF: WF and MCh as subsequent steps in chains of diachronic change; WF and MCh as designative alternatives in lexical innovation; WF and MCh as components of the phenomena of lexical ellipsis and folk-etymology; MCh governing the diachronic evolution of already existing WF devices; MCh creating new WF devices.


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