Micro-processes of grammaticalization

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After the pioneering work of Lehmann (1982), grammaticalization has been at the centre of linguistic discussion, both as a theoretical basis for empirical diachronic studies and as a topic of inquiry itself. The present paper pertains to the first line of research and deals with an ongoing micro-process of grammaticalization in Italian: the emergence of a new reciprocal marker, namely uninflected <i>l&#8217;un l&#8217;altro</i>, which appears to be commonly produced by young people and frequently used in the language of the Internet. Synchronic analysis of its occurrence has revealed that the new pattern is semantically restricted to either intransitive or ordinary reciprocal predicates, whereas it is totally avoided in inherently reciprocal situations and always expresses the iteration or sequentiality of the sub-actions. These semantic constraints play a significant role in the diachronic development of a two-quantifier construction into a reciprocal marker; evidence of the fact that the two constructions are likely to represent two different but subsequent stages of the same linguistic development.


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