On the origins of grammaticalization and other types of language change in discourse strategies

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In this contribution it is argued that grammaticalization and related types of change arise as a side-effect of strategic, rhetorical language use by speakers. The outcome of these processes is determined by the strategy for which the underlying lexical items are used, rather than by the lexical content of these items or by pre-set characteristics of types of change. This is illustrated with the three grammatical uses that derived from lexical <i>bien</i> in French: modal particle, concessive conjunction and discourse particle. This approach to grammaticalization and other changes is also shown to shed new light on high-level generalizations such as persistence, subjectification and pragmaticalization, which need to be complemented with lower-level generalizations about the rhetorical strategies that are driving them.


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