Grammaticalization as Decategorization

  • Hiroaki Saito University of Connecticut
Keywords: grammaticalization, decategorization


This paper aims to offer a formal analysis of grammaticalization, focusing on a change from speech verbs to complementizers and other functional elements. Assuming that speech verbs consist of category-neutral roots and the verbalizer (the category-determining head), I suggest that grammaticalization of speech verbs involves loss of the verbalizer component. The proposed analysis makes a different prediction regarding possible stages/patterns of the grammaticalization in question from other generative analyses, which I argue is desirable. In particular, investigating evidential markers that have developed from speech verbs and operators that induce indexical shift, I argue that these elements are in a stage of grammaticalization predicted to exist under the proposed analysis. Correction: At the request of the author, this article was updated to include a correction on 07/01/2022. The year of Harley (2017) was corrected from 1993 to 2017.