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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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Revisiting the anasynthetic spiral

Revisiting the anasynthetic spiral

Chapter:
(p.97) 6 Revisiting the anasynthetic spiral
Source:
Grammaticalization from a Typological Perspective
Author(s):

Martin Haspelmath

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198795841.003.0006

Grammaticalization is nowadays often seen primarily as a kind of semantic-pragmatic change, but in the 19th century it was more typically seen in a holistic typological perspective: the idea was that synthetic languages develop from analytic languages, and that they may become analytic again. This kind of development is indeed occasionally observed in entire languages, as in the Romance languages and in Later Egyptian, but it is quite unclear whether such holistic changes are at all common. Similarly, there seems to be no good evidence that changes from agglutinative patterns to isolating patterns go through an intermediate flective or fusional stage. By contrast, there is abundant evidence for the old observation that older tightly bound constructions often face competition from new constructions based on content items, which may eventually replace the older patterns (I call this kind of process ‘anasynthesis’). Such anasynthetic changes are driven by inflationary processes that can be observed elsewhere in language and culture, not by therapeutic motivations.

Keywords:   analytic construction, synthetic construction, analyticization, agglutinative, flective, anasynthesis, inflationary process

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