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Grammaticalization and (inter)subjectification

Research project P6/44 (Research action P6)


Persons :


Description :

The project aims to contribute to current research efforts dealing with (the interaction between) the processes of grammaticalization (in the structural domain) and (inter)subjectification (in the semantic domain) in language change. It will focus on three major issues:

1) The precise nature of the semantic changes in subjectification and in intersubjectification, and their relationship with the structural developments in grammaticalization.
2) The teleology of the processes: are grammaticalization and (inter)subjectification unidirectional or not?
3) The ‘scope’ of these processes: how do grammaticalization and (inter)subjectification relate to other mechanisms of language change, notably, to analogy?

These foci will be implemented in terms of 7 work packages, dealing with different semantic and/or grammatical domains in which these issues can be raised and investigated from different angles. These packages are:

1) Modality – with focus on grammaticalization and (inter)subjectification processes in both auxiliary and non-auxiliary (verbal, adverbial, and adjectival) means of expression.
2) Evidentiality – an exploration into how a range of devices available for expressing this semantic category has evolved.
3) Mood – an investigation into how the variety of forms and meanings of the imperative mood and their historical evolution, matches the dimensions of (inter)subjectification and grammaticalization.
4) Discourse particles – what does a detailed analysis of this formally and functionally highly complex category tell us about the process of intersubjectification and its correlation with grammaticalization?
5) Complementation – dealing with how the evolution in types of clause combining reflects on common assumptions about grammaticalization.
6) Nominal modification – dealing with the processes of (inter)subjectification and grammaticalization in the internal organization of nominal groups.
7) Theory – what is the wider import of the current findings, and of the literature on grammaticalization and (inter)subjectification, for linguistic theory?

In terms of methodology, the empirical issues in these packages will be addressed by combining an ‘in depth’ and an ‘in width’ approach: the ‘in depth’ approach involves a detailed study of phenomena in individual Germanic and Romance languages (also comparatively) on the basis of corpus data; the ‘in width’ approach concerns a typological analysis of phenomena in a representative sample of languages in the world and with a special focus on the Bantu languages.


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