Synchronic gradience and language change in Latin genitive constructions

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This paper builds on the conceptualization of synchronic variation in terms of gradience and, more specifically, on recent findings concerning constructional gradience. In this perspective, indeterminacy, ambiguity and variation in language use and language system, are observed to involve both the behavior of an element in a particular construction, and the boundary between construction types. After discussing phenomena of overlap and convergence in the domain of adnominal constructions in Latin, this study specifically addresses the evolution of genitive constructions. The spread of meanings/functions related to non-achoring relations is claimed to explain the increasing frequency of structures with postnominal dependents. The conclusions pinpoint the role of bridging and mixed constructions, also discussing the view of synchronic variation as both the context and the outcome of diachronic change.


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