A usage-based approach to change: Old Russian possessive constructions

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This article explores the usefulness of a usage-based constructional approach to syntactic change. Case constructions are particularly interesting data in this respect, because of their prominent semantic features. A corpus study of the history of Old Russian possessive constructions is taken as an example of a change involving syntactic constructions which is difficult to describe well within established models of diachronic syntax and cannot feasibly be classified as grammaticalisation. Instead, the changes are best viewed as an interlocking set of schematisations and deschematisations, accompanied by extensions and narrowings of the meanings of several of the constructions within the possessive semantic field.


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