Network Core Mechanisms of Exponence

Fintel, Kai von (1995)


von Fintel argues that semantic changes typical of grammaticalization are not adequately described by the very broad term ‘semantic bleaching’, since they show a set of clearly structured properties. It is shown that grammaticalization typically involves (i) the loss of ‘predicative’ or ‘descriptive’ content and, more important, (ii) the retention or even addition of what he calls ‘logical semantic’ content (see Roberts and Roussou 2003 for examples and extensive discussion). von Fintel claims that logical semantic content is typically associated with functional categories such as C, T or D, which suggests that grammaticalization should be analyzed as the reanalysis of lexical elements as (exponents of) functional categories. If functional categories are characterized by (and limited to) a certain kind of semantic content (i.e., logical meanings and high semantic types, cf. von Fintel 1995), then it is expected that the transition from lexical to functional category requires the loss of those semantic properties that are not compatible with the universal make up of functional categories, that is, nonlogical (i.e., predicative or descriptive) content, and the retention or addition of logical content.

authorFintel, Kai von
titleThe formal semantics of grammaticalization
booktitleProceedings of NELS 25: Workshop on Language Change


    author = {Fintel, Kai von},
    year = {1995},
    title = {The formal semantics of grammaticalization},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of NELS 25: Workshop on Language Change},
    pages = {175-189},
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