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Grammatical Words and Spreading of Contexts: Evidence from the Spanish Preposition a

Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México,Circuito Mario de la Cueva, s.n., Ciudad de la Investigación en Humanidades, Ciudad de México 04510, Mexico
Languages 2019, 4(1), 10;
Received: 2 January 2019 / Revised: 1 February 2019 / Accepted: 1 February 2019 / Published: 15 February 2019
PDF [2012 KB, uploaded 27 March 2019]


The paper shows that when grammatical words are involved, context is then the unit of language change. Certain changes consist in an active spreading of a form to new contexts, without changing the category or grammatical status of the form; in these cases, context must be considered the unit of language change. The empirical evidence is the diachrony of the Spanish preposition a ‘to’. Throughout history, this preposition pervasively extended to new and different contexts, but the form a never changed, remaining a grammatical preposition with a basic meaning of ‘directive telicity towards a goal’ (goal maybe locative, temporal, transitivity, finality, discursive, etc.). The paper labels this kind of change as ‘context construction’, and considers it an analogical extension induced by context. Finally, to test whether the diachrony of a is grammaticalization or not, the paper reviews fourteen related theoretical concepts, checking them against the diachronic evidence of the preposition a. View Full-Text
Keywords: context; grammaticalization; exaptation; refunctionalization; analogical extension context; grammaticalization; exaptation; refunctionalization; analogical extension
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Company Company, C. Grammatical Words and Spreading of Contexts: Evidence from the Spanish Preposition a. Languages 2019, 4, 10.

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