[Lingtyp] grammaticalized v grammaticized

Christian Lehmann christian.lehmann at uni-erfurt.de
Tue Jun 11 05:09:17 EDT 2019

The discussion has brought up several distinct meanings that can be 
associated with such terms as /grammat(ic(al))ization/. Several of the 
concepts involved are doubtless useful in linguistics and would suit 
such a term. I would advise against providing different terms for the 
concepts ‚synchronic grammaticalization‘ and ‚diachronic 
grammaticalization‘. I distinguish between the formation of a concept 
and providing a term for it. There is apparently no methodological 
principle that would allow or exclude the formation of concepts of just 
anything. Certainly it may be useful to distinguish between 
‚grammaticalization viewed as manifested in synchrony‘ and 
‚grammaticalization viewed as manifested in diachrony‘. However, one has 
to keep in mind that synchrony and diachrony are not two different 
spheres of the object of linguistics, but two alternate perspectives on 
one object. Thus, there are no such things as ‚synchronic 
grammaticalization‘ as a process distinct from ‚diachronic 
grammaticalization‘. The same is true of countless other linguistic 
processes. Nobody has yet proposed to distinguish between synchronic and 
diachronic assimilation, synchronic and diachronic diphthongation, 
synchronic and diachronic univerbation, synchronic and diachronic 
metaphora and so on ad nauseam. Descriptive and historical grammarians 
have simply assumed that there is, in each of these cases, only one such 
process which manifests itself in the perspective taken by them; and 
rightly so.

So again, one may, of course, view grammaticalization either in a 
synchronic or in a diachronic perspective. It is, however, 
methodologically dangerous to provide different terms for such 
constructs, because a construct provided with a (handy) term has a 
strong tendency to be hypostatized to an entity existing independently 
of our approach. Witness the countless definitions found in the 
literature according to which grammaticalization is allegedly a 
diachronic (or even worse, a historical) process. Sorry for sounding 
dogmatic about this; but our theory is going to make progress only if we 
get the methodology right.

Positive balance: Let’s reserve the variants of /grammat(ic(al))ization/ 
for some of the other concepts brought up in the discussion.


Prof. em. Dr. Christian Lehmann
Rudolfstr. 4
99092 Erfurt

Tel.: 	+49/361/2113417
E-Post: 	christianw_lehmann at arcor.de
Web: 	https://www.christianlehmann.eu

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