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Grammaticalization of converb constructions

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Abstract

This paper examines the patterns of grammaticalization of motion verbs (verbs of coming and going) in Japanese converb complex predicate constructions. The <i>-te</i> converb form is the most widely used connective device in Japanese, and the forms combining with motion verbs are among the most frequently used converb constructions in the language. Among the <i>-te</i> converb constructions involving motion verbs, those that appear to have grammaticalized are most numerous in the corpus data. Detailed examinations of the decategorialization pattern of the motion verbs involved indicate a clear cline of grammaticalization, which contradicts some earlier studies such as Teramura (1984) and Hasegawa (1996). The paper also addresses a number of important issues in grammaticalization studies and questions some of the current understandings of them, which include the following: (1) What drives grammaticalization – frequency of use and metaphor (Traugott and Heine 1991; Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer 1991)? (2) What are the possible paths of grammaticalization in the development of temporal meanings from motion verbs (Bybee, Perkins and Pagliuca 1994)? (3) Are grammaticalization processes always gradual (Bybee, Pagliuca and Perkins 1991; Brinton and Traugott 2005)?

References

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