criticisms of grammaticalization
haspelmath at eva.mpg.de
Tue Feb 28 15:51:47 UTC 2006
I think the label "epiphenomenon" for grammaticalization theory arose
when generative linguists looking at what grammaticalization theorists
said could not find a theory easily comparable to their familiar
"binding theory" or "X-bar theory". In the generative world view,
binding facts and phrase structure facts are epiphenomena falling out
from the respective theories, but grammaticalization phenomena do not
fall out so easily from grammaticalization theory.
But grammaticalization theory is a very different sort of theory from
X-bar theory, as every proponent will readily admit. Newmeyer
(1998:233-4) suggests that the literature on grammaticalization portrays
it as “an encapsulated phenomenon”, “driven by a distinct set of
principles governing the phenomenon alone”.
This is not really true (see Haspelmath 2000:§6 and 2004:§3.2.3 for more
discussion), but it is also the case that there is rather little direct
general discussion of the key question of why grammaticalization
exhibits the properties it does (especially unidirectionality, see
Haspelmath 1999). Maybe it's OK that most grammaticalization research
focuses on specific language-particular facts, because the most general
why-questions are also the hardest, and it's not easy to tell whether we
are making any progress.
Haspelmath, M. 2004. "On directionality in language change with
particular reference to grammaticalization." In: Olga Fischer, Muriel
Norde and Harry Perridon (eds). Up and down the cline: /The nature of
grammaticalization/. (Typological Studies in Language, 59.) Amsterdam:
Haspelmath, M. 2000. “Why can’t we talk to each other? A review article
of [Newmeyer, Frederick. 1998. Language form and language function.
Cambridge: MIT Press.] /Lingua/ 110.4: 235-55.
Haspelmath, M. 1999. "Why is grammaticalization irreversible?"
/Linguistics/ 37.6: 1043-68.
Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at eva.mpg.de)
Max-Planck-Institut fuer evolutionaere Anthropologie, Deutscher Platz 6
Tel. (MPI) +49-341-3550 307, (priv.) +49-341-980 1616
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