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Meaning Change in GrammaticalizationAn Enquiry into Semantic Reanalysis$
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Regine Eckardt

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199262601

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199262601.001.0001

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Semantic Reanalysis

Semantic Reanalysis

The Algebraic Backbone of Meaning Change

Chapter:
(p.235) 8 Semantic Reanalysis
Source:
Meaning Change in Grammaticalization
Author(s):

Regine Eckardt (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199262601.003.0008

This chapter surveys the driving factors of change that were encountered in the case studies. It is argued that language change does not arise as a result of experimentation and imitation of use of poorly specified linguistic items. Speakers are able to hypothesize specific new uses of old words if confronted with suitable utterance contexts. Specifically, it was shown that utterances that carry a pragmatic overload — too much unwarranted presuppositions — can initiate change. The principle ‘avoid pragmatic overload’, parallel to Lightfoot’s ‘avoid structural complexity’ principle, hitherto unacknowledged in the literature on semantic change, is one of the main theories confirmed by this investigation.

Keywords:   pragmatic overload, presupposition, Lightfoot, continuous change, discrete, semantic reanalysis

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