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Grammaticalization from a Typological Perspective$
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Heiko Narrog and Bernd Heine

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795841

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198795841.001.0001

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Grammaticalization in Africa

Grammaticalization in Africa

Two contrasting hypotheses

Chapter:
(p.16) 2 Grammaticalization in Africa
Source:
Grammaticalization from a Typological Perspective
Author(s):

Bernd Heine

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198795841.003.0002

Sub-Saharan Africa is an area for which hardly any earlier written documents are available. The student of African languages is therefore at a disadvantage when it comes to reconstructing processes of grammaticalization. That this is nevertheless possible has been demonstrated in a number of studies, using a conjunction of internal reconstruction and diachronic typological generalizations as a tool. After presenting an overview of the state of the art in grammaticalization studies in African languages, the present chapter is concerned with a more theoretical issue, namely the question of how grammaticalization processes arise. To this end, two contrasting hypotheses are discussed, namely the ‘parallel reduction’ and the ‘meaning-first’ hypotheses. Evidence from African languages suggests that it is the second hypothesis that is correct, but that both hypotheses nevertheless have their place in a framework of grammaticalization.

Keywords:   decategorialization, desemanticization, comparative of inequality, erosion, future tense, grammaticalization, meaning-first hypothesis, parallel reduction, proximative, reflexive

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