grammaticalization and complexity
Frederick J Newmeyer
fjn at u.washington.edu
Wed Mar 16 17:24:13 UTC 2011
Thanks so much for your replies! As some of them have indicated, I probably did not give the ideal example to illustrate what I am after. One category splitting into two (the example I gave) increases complexity in one way (a bigger inventory of categories results), but perhaps not in other ways, particularly if the new category encodes a coherent semantic class.
Here's a better example of what I am looking for. A case where the result of grammaticalization is more irregularity and idiosyncracy. As a hypothetical example, say we have one or more verbs or nouns grammaticalizing into prepositions (or whatever), where the resultant prepositions (or whatever) are irregular in some way with respect to other pre-existing members of that class.
Frederick J. Newmeyer
Professor Emeritus, University of Washington
Adjunct Professor, University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University
[for my postal address, please contact me by e-mail]
On Tue, 15 Mar 2011, Frederick J Newmeyer wrote:
> I am looking for nice examples of where a grammaticalization-related change, however motivated it might be from the point of view of the language user, ends up increasing the overall complexity of the resultant grammatical system. One example that came to mind is the formation of the distinct grammatical category of Modal Auxilary in English out of a subclass of verbs. One might argue that English grammar is now more complex because there are two categories rather than one and each have very distinct properties. Can anybody think of other/better examples from other languages?
> Thanks! I'll summarize if there is any interest.
> Frederick J. Newmeyer
> Professor Emeritus, University of Washington
> Adjunct Professor, University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University
> [for my postal address, please contact me by e-mail]
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