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An iconic, analogical approach to grammaticalization

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Abstract

This paper addresses a number of problems connected with the &#8216;apparatus&#8217; used in grammaticalization theory. It will be argued that we get a better grip on what happens in processes of grammaticalization (and its &#8216;opposite&#8217;, lexicalization) if the process is viewed in terms of analogical processes, which are part of our general cognitive abilities. These analogical processes are connected with the modes of iconic and indexical thinking, which are prior to and underlie the mode of symbolic thinking (cf. Deacon 1997). I will make use of a simple analogical or usage-based grammar model, in which a distinction is made between processes taking place on a <i>token</i> level and those taking place on a <i>type</i> level. The model also involves taking more notice of the <i>form</i> of linguistic signs and of the <i>synchronic</i> grammar system at each stage of the grammaticalization process. This model will then be used on a classic example of grammaticalization (or subjectification), involving the modal verbs in the history of English. It will show that analogy lies at the basis of this grammaticalization process, and it will illustrate at the same time that the problems with scope, noted by Tabor and Traugott (1998), can also be dealt with if the process is seen as being steered by analogy.

References

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