Semantic Change in Grammaticalization


  • Regine Eckardt



In this paper, I want to establish semantic reanalysis as an independent mode of meaning change in language history. My point of departure will be cases of language change that have traditionally been classed as „grammaticalization“, on one hand because we will find very nice instances of semantic reanalysis particuarly in that field, and on the other hand because I think that the notion of semantic reanalysis that I propose can be particularly helpful in elucidating some hitherto poorly understood semantic changes in grammaticalization. In order to achive this double purpose, to characterise semantic reanalysis and to demonstrate its power as a tool of diachronic analysis, the paper is organized in the following way: I will first briefly present some cases of grammaticalization, focussing mainly on the meaning changes they involve. I will next give an overview over previous proposals as to what kind of semantic processes underlie these changes, arguing that neither of them is fully convincing. I will then demonstrate how the meaning side of the changes in question can be analysed as semantic reanalysis in semantic composition. Finally, I will evaluate the emerging picture with respect to the common observation that the meanings of words in grammaticalization just „fade away“ or „bleach“.




How to Cite

Eckardt, R. (2019). Semantic Change in Grammaticalization. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 6, 53–68.