Grammaticalization

In linguistics, grammaticalization (also known as grammatization, grammaticization) is a process by which words representing objects and actions (i.e. nouns and verbs) transform through sound change and language migration to become grammatical objects (affixes and prepositions, etc.). Grammaticalization is a powerful aspect of language, as it creates new function words within language, by separating functions from their original inflectional and bound constructions (i.e. from content words). It is a field of research in historical linguistics, in the wider study of language change, which focuses on a particular process of lexical and grammatical change.

For an understanding of this process, a distinction needs to be made between lexical items, or content words, which carry specific lexical meaning, and grammatical items, or function words, with little or no lexical meaning which serve to express grammatical relationships between the different words within an utterance. Specifically, "the change whereby lexical terms and constructions come in certain linguistic contexts to serve grammatical functions, and, once grammaticalized, continue to develop new grammatical functions". Simply said, grammaticalization is the process in which a lexical word or a word cluster loses some or all of its lexical meaning and starts to fulfil a more grammatical function. It means that nouns and verbs which carry certain lexical meaning develop over time into grammatical items such as auxiliaries, case markers, inflections and sentence connectives.

A well-known example of grammaticalization is that of the process in which the lexical cluster let us, for example in the sentence "let us go", is reduced to a single word let's as in the sentence "let's you and me fight". The phrase has lost its lexical meaning of "allow us" and has changed into an auxiliary, while the pronoun 'us' reduced first to a suffix and then to an unanalyzed phoneme.

Read more about GrammaticalizationHistory, Mechanisms, Clines, Unidirectionality Hypothesis, Views On Grammaticalization

Other articles related to "grammaticalization":

Views On Grammaticalization
... have come up with different interpretation of the term 'grammaticalization', and there are many alternatives to the definition given in the introduction ... written about the subject with their individual approaches to the nature of the term 'grammaticalization'. 1965) His "classical" definition is probably the one most often referred to "Grammaticalization consists in the increase of the range of a morpheme advancing from a lexical to a ...
Yaghan Language - Grammar - Grammaticalization
... Grammaticalization is an historical linguistic process whereby regular lexical items shift function (and sometimes form) and become part of the grammar ... Such reduction is one symptom of grammaticalization ...
Bernd Heine - Publications
... Grammaticalization A conceptual framework ... Approaches to grammaticalization ... Auxiliaries Cognitive forces and grammaticalization ...