Gradualness of grammaticalization in Romance. The position of French, Spanish and Italian

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In this article we propose that the notion of grammaticalization as a gradual process can be extended to language typology. Within the same language family, grammaticalization phenomena can be ongoing in one language and have reached a stage further down the cline in another language. This entails that diachronically languages of the same family may grammaticalize at a different speed. ‘Degree of grammaticalization’ is operationalized as degree of paradigmatization: the reduction of alternatives is viewed as representing a higher degree of paradigmaticity and of grammaticalization. We make our case for three important Romance languages, French, Italian and Spanish. It is argued that in Romance we find the following cline of grammaticalization: French > Italian > Spanish, i.e. with French being most grammaticalized, Spanish least, and Italian in between.


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