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Muriel Norde

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199207923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207923.001.0001

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(p.48) 2 Unidirectionality

Muriel Norde

Oxford University Press

This chapter is a detailed study of the directional preferences of primitive changes at several linguistic levels. It explores the notion of irreversibility and discusses desemanticization, decategorialization, univerbation, phonological and phonetic attrition, and subjectification. It shows that directional tendencies are strongest in semantic-pragmatic change, but that even here exceptions can be observed. It also provides a survey of both usage-based, psycholinguistic and generative explanations of directional tendencies, arguing that usage-based and psycholinguistic approaches are best equipped to account for such tendencies.

Keywords:   primitive changes, linguistic levels, irreversibility, desemanticization, decategorialization, directional tendencies, subjectification

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