A case study on the relationship between grammatical change and synchronic variation

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Over recent decades the Italian word <i>tipo</i> (Eng. <i>type</i>) has developed numerous non-nominal uses. This paper seeks to address the issue of whether synchronic variation in the use of <i>tipo</i> reflects diachronic development. Findings indicate that, (1) the complex path of grammaticalization of <i>tipo</i> led to the availability of new signs for the expression of vagueness and approximation; (2) the distribution of different non-nominal uses of <i>tipo</i> varies in relation to different dimensions, the most relevant of which is the textual and register variation; (3) the co-presence of multiple meanings and functions of non-nominal <i>tipo</i> does not result in fuzzy morphosyntactic boundaries between different uses of the word, and differences between specific instances of <i>tipo</i> can be represented in terms of prototypical vs. less prototypical realization of categories.


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