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Beyond Grammaticalization and Discourse Markers

New Issues in the Study of Language Change

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Edited by Salvador Pons Bordería and Óscar Loureda Lamas

Beyond Grammaticalization and Discourse Markers offers a comprehensive account of the most promising new directions in the vast field of grammaticalization studies. From major theoretical issues to hardly addressed experimental questions, this volume explores new ways to expand, refine or even challenge current ideas on grammaticalization.

All contributions, written by leading experts in the fields of grammaticalization and discourse markers, explore issues such as: the impact of Construction Grammar into language change; cyclicity as a driving force of change; the importance of positions and discourse units as predictors of grammaticalization; a renewed way of thinking about philological considerations, or the role of Experimental Pragmatics for hypothesis checking.

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Piera Molinelli

Abstract

Functional markers (i.e., a hypernymic term for discourse and pragmatic markers) are of great interest on a sociolinguistic level. An increasing number of recent studies have shown that their sensitivity to macro sociolinguistic variables together with their characteristic polyfunctionality make them particularly interesting objects of analysis of sociolinguistically-informed approaches.

The analysis developed in this paper, based on diachronic and synchronic data on the Italian markers dai ‘come on’ and allora ‘then’, aims at verifying the hypothesis that pragmatic markers and discourse markers are differently sensitive to sociolinguistic variation and diachronic change. The motivation behind such difference rests on the fact that pragmatic functions are more related to interactional dynamics, while discourse markers are more anchored to the co-text and tend to show higher functional and formal persistence over time. Indeed, pragmatic markers are typically related to the speaker’s subjectivity, to social rules and to contemporary cultural patterns, and hence are more ephemeral, while discourse markers appear more stable over time due to their anchoring to a ‘grammar of speech’.

The paper shows how the two classes of functional markers are differently sensitive (a) to macro-sociolinguistic variables (i.e., diatopic and diaphasic variation) and (b) to diachronic change, and how such differences can be explained through a prototype approach, which seems appropriate to give a good account of the polyfunctionality of functional markers.

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Margarita Borreguero Zuloaga

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to outline the evolution of two adverbs (It. allora and Sp. entonces) with a common semantic value that have undergone a similar process of (partial) desemantization and pragmaticalization. We focus on the diachronic changes from their adverbial function to the function of consecutive connective at the textual level from the medieval period to the 18th century. We pay special attention to three steps in this process which seem to form a kind of cline which has also been observed for similar connectives: from temporal adverbs to continuative connectives, from continuative connectives to consecutive connectives at the intrasentential level, and from sentential to textual consecutive connectives. However, our data show that these steps do not follow orderly one another and are not parallel in both adverbs: stages in this evolution occur at different moments and often in different types of texts. We also explore the advantages and the limits of the concept of discourse traditions to offer an explanation of the similarities and divergences between these two adverbs in their historical evolution.

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David Paul Gerards and Johannes Kabatek

Abstract

This paper investigates the emergence and evolution of Portuguese caso (< Lat. CASUS) in conditional contexts. As in similar cases in other European languages, conditional constructions involving caso emerged in medieval language in juridical texts. The paper examines the first attestations of such constructions and shows how they allow the further evolution of caso in Portuguese into a conditional conjunction. This evolution can be initially identified in Brazilian Portuguese from where it possibly spread to the European variety. Other evolutions such as the emergence of a noun acaso ‘coincidence’ or ‘fate’ and a modal particle acaso (in both Portuguese and Spanish) are also considered. The theoretical aim of the paper is to show the interrelation between grammaticalization and discourse traditions in the sense of Koch (1987, 1997): innovations emerge in particular textual environments, not only in the language as an abstract entity, and they may spread from their original textual tradition to others. The main claim of the paper is thus that the widening of the scope of discourse traditions should be considered as a general parameter of grammaticalization processes.

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Ulrich Detges and Paul Gévaudan

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Main-clause-initial puisque ‘but’ (?) is an insubordinated erstwhile causal conjunction. It signals that the information introduced by it should be known to the addressee. By doing so, puisque conveys an act of refutation directed against the immediately preceding utterance. As has been noted in the literature, insubordinated erstwhile conjunctions bear a close functional resemblance to German modal particles in that they integrate speech acts into the common ground—a function which we term abtönung. However, in spite of being eligible for abtönung, main-clause-initial puisque is basically a discourse marker rather than a modal particle; as we will show, its usage depends heavily on the sequential ordering of the discourse, whereas constraints of this kind play no role for modal particles. It has often been assumed that the diachronic mechanism behind insubordination is main-clause-ellipsis. However, based on Ford (1993) and Diessel & Hetterle (2011) we will argue that insubordinated puisque was brought about by a reanalysis in elaborative contexts. In the terms proposed by Detges & Waltereit (2016: 653), main-clause-initial puisque emerged from contexts where it served to negotiate the next move in the joint construction of discourse. It is this function that ultimately makes it a discourse-marker, despite its suitability for abtönung.

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Elizabeth Closs Traugott

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A constructionalist approach to the study of grammar conceptualizes a grammar as an account of the “network of constructions [that] captures our grammatical knowledge of language in toto” (Goldberg 2006: 18). There are currently three main models of constructional networks. Goldberg’s is a model of the network of sign categories and their inheritance relations; it is “vertical” in that members of lower levels have the properties of higher level ones by default unless they are overridden. Van de Velde (2014) enriches the inheritance model with “horizontal” links that show relationships among and across schemas and subschemas. Both models focus on single linguistic domains. For Fried and Östman (2005), a network is a multidimensional set of related linguistic functions and sociocultural norms. I explore the question which network is theoretically and methodologically most useful in doing historical work, given that networks come into being, grow, and their nodes may be reconfigured (see e.g. Colleman 2011, Traugott and Trousdale 2013). I illustrate by recasting earlier comments on the history of the discourse marker after all (Lewis 2000, Traugott 2004) in terms of constructional networks and suggest that combining the three models can give the researcher a rich perspective on the kinds of contexts that enable change.

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Mar Garachana

Abstract

This paper deals with some challenges of Theory of Grammaticalization, as it argues for the importance of the writer and of rhetorical rules in the evolution of grammar. By studying the evolution of the Spanish markers no obstante, no contrastante and no embargante ‘in spite of, although, however’, data reveals that their rise in Old Spanish is not connected to an evolution in terms of grammaticalization from an absolute clause into a counter-argumentative particle. On the contrary, no obstante was introduced in fourteenth century Spanish as a consequence of syntactic borrowing from Medieval Latin. More specifically, this borrowing entered into Spanish through Aragonese and Catalan (languages spoken in the east of the Iberian Peninsula).

This new form created a new pattern of expressing counter-argumentation that was then analogically copied in the Romance Languages using no contrastante and no embargante. These elements were introduced also into Old Spanish under the influence of Catalan and Aragonese. No obstante, no embargante and no contrastante were the reflection of a rhetorical fashion: the forms obstante, embargante and contrastante had the same form for present participles, which gave the text a cultured and Latinising air that was well-suited to the rhetorical guidelines of pre-Renaissance and European Renaissance. Thus, the diachrony of no obstante, no contrastante and no embargante has much to do with the socio-cultural and linguistic situation of Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.