Sapirian ‘drift’ towards analyticity and long-term morphosyntactic change in Ancient Egyptian

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Starting from Sapir’s (1921) concept of linguistic “drift”, this chapter explores long-term morphosyntactic change in Ancient Egyptian, with particular attention to the typological shift from agglutinative–synthetic to largely analytic morphological structure. The momentum for the continuing and pervasive analyticization process is to be sought in the profusion of a broad range of auxiliary verb constructions. The flipside of the drift towards analyticity is the decreasing morphological productivity of synthetic inflectional patterns. The structurally marked features of the Coptic particle system can however not exclusively be explained by the general pattern of analytic drift. Rather, the global effects of the long-term analyticization process have been optimized by a short-term process of accelerated grammaticalization during a period of language revival and genesis.


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