Semantic elaborateness and grammaticalization
Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf
In this talk I will argue that grammatical structures can be elaborate both with respect to their expression and to their semantics. I will show that it is possible to distinguish between what I have referred to as (i) semantically straightforward grammatical categories and (ii) semantically elaborate grammatical categories.
The former are categories which belong to a single functional domain, e.g. temporality (past tense, future tense, hodiernal tense, hesternal tense, etc), or aspectuality (progressive, habitual, inchoative, etc.). It is also these kinds of categories that figure in comprehensive studies of how grammatical categories have emerged – and constantly re-emerge – in natural languages. Whereas semantically straightforward categories are the ones mainstream linguists have been traditionally dealing with, semantically elaborate categories have remained largely under-researched in the specialized literature.
I will discuss two semantically elaborate categories from the functional domain of tense, aspect and mood, namely the avertive, and the lest – clause structure.