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31. Historical Morphosyntax and Grammaticalization


Subject Sociolinguistics » Language Variation and Change

Key-Topics functional grammar, grammar

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405198820.2012.00033.x


Interaction of language levels is the usual way in which grammatical changes arise. Most grammatical changes impact the structure of morphology, syntax, and semantics simultaneously, and many language changes are triggered by phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic–pragmatic motivations. Multicausality is the standard manifestation of change in the history of any language. The borderline between morphology and syntax is weakened, or even eroded, in language change; consequently, there are no clear-cut distinctions between the two language levels, so that it is better to work with the concepts of morphosyntactic change and morphosyntax . Because of that, in diachrony there is neither autonomous syntax nor autonomous morphology, it being very difficult to treat morphology or syntax as independent enough areas of grammar. If the language under analysis is mostly of the inflectional type, as Spanish is, the difficulty of dividing syntax from morphology increases. Language intersection is the logical effect of the fact that a linguistic sign has two faces: form and meaning. There is no morphosyntactic change without change in meaning, and semantic change generally involves changes in distribution and selection of forms. In consequence, different forms entail different meanings. Morphosyntactic change is concerned with changes in distribution and meaning of constructions, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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