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  • Pathways of change: Grammaticalization in English ed. by Olga Fischer, Anette Rosenbach, and Dieter Stein
  • Agustinus Gianto
Pathways of change: Grammaticalization in English. Ed. by Olga Fischer, Anette Rosenbach, and Dieter Stein. (Studies in language companion series 53.) Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2000. Pp. x, 391. $105.00.

In their introductory essay, Olga Fischer and Anette Rosenbach (1–37) give an overview of the current understanding of grammaticalization, focusing subsequently on the two different approaches (formal vs. functional) together with its mechanisms and causes (metaphor/metonymy, semantic bleaching, principle of unidirectionality, language contact, and iconicity).

Silvia Adamson (39–66) traces the development of the word lovely from a simple descriptive adjective into an affective adjective and intensifier. According to Minoji Akimoto (67–84), besides general principles of change, sociocultural factors also have their share in the grammaticalization of pray from a verb into a courtesy marker in the fifteenth century and subsequently to its obsolescence since the nineteenth century. For Guohua Chen (85–110), the need to highlight semantic and pragmatic properties of concessive sentences in Early Modern English has motivated the grammaticalization of concessive markers like although and albeit. Changes in the combinations of auxiliaries in English allow David Denison (111–47) to infer dates of their grammaticalization.

On the basis of changes in the use of to-infinitive, Olga Fischer questions the idea that grammaticalization is unidirectional and nonreversable (149–69). While examining changes in the use of infinitive and semi-auxiliaries (e.g. is going to), Susan Fitzmaurice (171–86) finds a correlation between the emergence of such semi-auxiliaries and the growing use of negative split infinitives. Examining Old English, Elly van Gelderen (187–206) observes that, when the verb moves to the front, agreement with the subject is less needed. Verbs with a 3rd person subject, however, tend to last longer.

Roger Lass (207–27) stresses that unidirectionality in grammaticalization is a mere statistical truth rather than a truth about language change. Ursula Lenker (229–49) establishes that the cline ‘clause-internal adverbial > sentence adverbial > discourse particle’ holds true for two Old English adverbs—soþlice and witodlice.

Bettelou Los (251–74) observes that in Æfric’s usage the verbs onginnan/beginnan ‘begin’ followed by bare infinitive are not in free variation with their use with to-infinitive. In the first case, these verbs function more as auxiliaries for inchoative aspect rather than as full verbs. With to-infinitives, they still preserve their lexical meaning and can signal thematic discontinuity. Robert McColl Millar (275–310) suggests that the grammaticalization of the English definite article was brought about by contact with Old Norse, which had developed a separate article.

Lack of symmetry in the use of verb forms in counterfactual conditionals leads Rafał Molencki (311–28) to suspect that the apodosis is epistemically more remote than the protasis. Sali A. Tagliamonte (329–54) interprets the free alternation between periphrastic perfect and the preterite in Samaná English (spoken in the Dominican Republic) as evidence for an earlier stage in North American English. Ilse Wischer (355–70) maintains that, on the basis of the development of methinks, grammaticalization and lexicalization are not contradictory processes.

Nearly all the papers published in this volume have in one way or another provided grounds for reevaluating the principle of unidirectionality of change which is often considered a basic feature of grammaticalization.

Agustinus Gianto
Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome


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