On the origin of Grammar

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The goals of the present chapter are twofold. On the one hand, it aims to show the potential that studies on grammaticalization offer for reconstructing earlier phases in the evolution of language or languages, that is, phases that are not within the scope of the classical methods of historical linguistics. What distinguishes grammaticalization theory from other linguistic approaches that have been recruited is that it has a diachronic foundation and that the hypotheses proposed on the basis of this theory rest, first, on regularities in linguistic change and, second, on typological generalizations across languages. Building on the reconstruction work proposed in Heine and Kuteva (2007), the chapter looks at some phenomena that were not discussed there. One of these phenomena concerns the role of “linguistic fossils” in discourse organization. The focus of the present paper is on the question of what such possible “fossils” can tell us about the structure that early human language may have had.


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