Gradualness in contact-induced constructional replication

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It is widely appreciated that the linguistic category of possession does not reduce to any single, familiar value, such as ownership. A moment&#8217;s thought reveals the extraordinary variety of the relationships coded by possessive constructions. (Langacker 1991: 169)In this paper we investigate the emergence, the diachronic spread and the resulting areal distribution of the so-called <i>Abstract Possession construction</i> in the Circum-Mediterranean area. In this construction, grammatical means typically used to convey concrete possession are recruited to express feelings and other abstract states. We explore the dynamics through which this construal gradually extended both in space and time with reference to a well-defined <i>grammaticalization area </i>(Kuteva 2000). We take into account cases of contact-induced grammatical replication and we show that different degrees of grammaticalization correlate with geographical factors. We also address some issues pertaining to the field of lexical typology and explore the privileged semantic paths along which the construction was extended in different languages. Finally, on the basis of our data we provide some insights into the functional characterization of the domain of abstract possession.


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