epiphenomenological grammaticalisation

Debra Ziegeler jcxvjh732973 at yahoo.com.sg
Tue Feb 28 14:10:39 UTC 2006

Suzanne Kemmer wrote:
  "Epiphenomenon:  A phenomenon that is a trivial and accidental byproduct 
of truly significant processes."

  Wolfgang Schulze wrote:
  "In this sense, grammaticalization is nothing but a 
shift in the relation of concept and (articulatory) symbolization. For 
instance, the emergence of a 'near future' or present inchoative 
the grammaticalization of GO verbs does not necessarily mean that on 
conceptual layer, the notion of near futureness hasn't prior been 
existent. The only question is, to which degree this concept had been 
symbolized before. What we must not do is to infer from the 
non-existence of a grammatical 'form' (symbol/sign) to the 
of the 'corresponding' phenomenon on the conceptual layer. So it may 
well be that grammaticalization is unidirectional on the 'linguistic' 
layer, but surely not on the conceptual layer.

Naturally, the question remains whether grammaticalization itself is a 
phenomenon shaped in cognition. Personally, I would claim that 
grammaticalization again is an epiphenomenon that takes shape in 
language. it is supervened by cognitive processes that by themselves 
have nothing to do with grammaticalization, but with more general 
procedures of varying patterns of communicative perception and 
experience (e.g. Di(h)airesis, Zipf, the so-called Perception 
Action/Information Cycle, memory routines, metaphorization/metonymy, 
blending etc.). In addition, communicative (pragmatic) routines 
from the layer of language objectification' mentioned above supply 

  A question which may arise from these comments is to determine how a by-product of truly significant processes can get disentangled from the processes themselves. It would seem impossible to describe grammaticalisation (particularly with reference to Wolfgang's definitions) without reference to such processes themselves. So perhaps the trivial and accidental by-product is simply just a collective and convenient term for all of this (as well as the processes outlined in Newmeyer's (1998) interlocking circles)? If not, it remains to describe the by-product as a separate entity without reference to the truly significant processes themselves, which, in my opinion, comprise the principle, perceptible characteristics of grammaticalisation.
  It has also been shown that unidirectionality is possible on the conceptual layer, and perhaps more justifiably than on the 'linguistic' layer (as I discussed in a paper published in FLH XXIV, and as also noted by Traugott and Dasher 2002: 87). Examples shown in these studies reveal that although there may be structural counter-evidence to unidirectionality, semantic unidrectionality has not been shown to be violated.
  The crisis, I believe, that is facing grammaticalisation studies at the moment, is not how to describe what went on in the past, but how to derive enough of a theoretical position from the past to be able to predict what will happen in the future (Bernd Heine (p.c.) raised a similar stance on unidirectionality) . Only then can it resist counter-attack from other forces.
  Debra Ziegeler
  Newmeyer, Frederick. 1998. Language Form and Language Function. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  Traugott, Elizabeth Closs, and Richard Dasher. 2002. Regularity in Semantic Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  Ziegeler, Debra. 2003. 'Redefining unidirectionality: insights from demodalisation'. Folia Linguistica Historica XXIV/1-2: 225-266.

Do you Yahoo!?
 Yahoo! Movies - Search movie info and celeb profiles and photos.

More information about the Funknet mailing list