Examples of Grammaticalization In Some Languages
We need to talk about grammaticalization and how it works in different human languages. I will be providing a few examples, too.
Grammaticalization is one of the key concepts for anyone who wants to understand the workings of language change and how human mind comprehends and creates the language. Indeed, language is one of the mysteries of our world and it is only recently that linguists began to understand some of the basic tenets of how it evolves. Even a few decades ago, the origin of non-lexical words such as prepositions and postpositions was a mystery and every linguist came up with a different theory about every other adposition or suffix in every language. It was all chaos, basically. There was no proper theory or method that depended on specific examples on how grammatical structures originated in different languages. But thanks to the work produced by researcher who developed what is called the grammaticalization theory and supported it with powerful examples, today we know things we did not know about the origin of structures like case endings, tense suffixes, prepositions, postpositions and even circumpositions that play an integral role in languages. The process that gets new grammar rules up and running in various human languages is called the grammaticalization.
Grammaticalization is one of the primary mechanisms of language change and there are many ways through which grammaticalization occurs so taking a look at a few languages that have been weel documented over the last few centuries, one could come across at least dozen, if not tens of, examples that show the different stages of grammaticalization. Below, I will give you a few such examples so that you get a better idea about what I mean.
Let us take a look at the English prespotion “inside”. This is a very simple example. It is obvious that this word must have once been two separate words, namely “in” and “side”. The second word is obviously a noun. So, what we have here is a noun that has entered the grammaticalization process with the help of an existing preposition. We still know where “inside” came from. But perhaps it will not be so clear as centuries progress and a day will come when nobody no longer knows its origins because it will sound far too different to allow that.
Iranian Languages, namely Persian, is where we see many grammaticalization examples. This language family developed out of an ancient language named Proto-Iranian. We know little about this ancient, unattested language but what we know is that it had little need for adpositions as it depended on case endings for the meaning. But as time passed, the case endings eroded and that is how the language started to needed more grammaticalization to create new adpositons to fill the void.
Article Tags: Case Endings
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I speak like ten different languages. Indeed, I find it hard to count the languages I can speak.