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Grammaticalization: Some Examples From Indo-European Languages

Grammaticalization is a much popularized subject in linguistics circles and there is little doubt that there are more than one definition of it made by the many linguists who are actively studying thi...

Grammaticalization is a much popularized subject in linguistics circles and there is little doubt that there are more than one definition of it made by the many linguists who are actively studying this phenomenon. Yet, I will go on to make a basic definition so that you get an idea about what grammaticalization is and how it works. Grammaticalization is a process that usually takes centuries if not milennia and it involves a lexical word in a languages such as a noun, transforming into a grammatical word or morpheme such as suffix. There are several known paths of grammaticalization and each of these paths involve many stages and levels of grammaticalization. For example, grammaticalization in a language could start with a noun partnering an existing preposition or postposition to create a new adpositional phrase that conveys a new and complicated relation between elements of the sentence. Now, move on a few centuries in time and you come across this same adpositional phrase only to see that the original adposition is gone and now the nouns remains by itself to convey an adpositional meaning. The nouns is now being utilized as an adposition per se. Now, imagine more and more time passing and finally the use of this word as a noun is no longer possible. It is now only used as an adposition and probably nobody remembers it used to be the name of an object, other than a few who read ancient texts of the centuries past. Move on a thousand years more and you see that the new adpositions has gone through some phonetic erosion and now sounds different, probably a shorter word than what it used to be. Grammaticalization is basically this. Now, I will provide some examples of this process from Indo-European languages.

English is a prepositional language but there is one postposition that you might have missed. It is “ago” that is used after words and phrases that define a time period and it tells us how far in the past something is. “Ago” is only useful in a context and with words that tell a time period. By itself, it is meaningless as it is not an object or an action. This word goes back to the verb “go” as a reference to the times gone by. We need to take deep look into the ancient grammar of English languages to explain its present phonetic form but w will not ettempt that.

There are, of course, other grammaticalization examples, as wellHealth Fitness Articles, such as the adpositions derived from nouns in Iranian Languages.

Article Tags: From Indo-european Languages, Some Examples, From Indo-european, Indo-european Languages

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