Reanalysis involving rebracketing and relabeling

A special type

  • Helmut Weiß Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Keywords: reanalysis, rebracketing, relabeling, ambiguity, grammaticalization


Reanalysis is a mechanism that plays an eminent role in (explaining) morphological and syntactic change. In this paper, I consider a special type of reanalysis that consists of two distinct processes – namely, relabeling (category shift) and rebracketing (restructuring) – and investigate its particular features. First, I show that this type of reanalysis is not reducible to other kinds of changes, in contrast to many other cases treated as reanalysis in the literature. Second, I try to demonstrate that structural ambiguity is the necessary trigger for this type, whereas semantic change is, at most, a side effect and mostly absent. Third, I treat the question of whether relabeling and rebracketing occur without each other. Fourth, I argue that reanalysis of this type happens during language acquisition and, fifth, that this kind of reanalysis always involves grammaticalization.
Special Issue: Whither Reanalysis?