Special Issue "Studies in Historical Linguistics and Language Change. Grammaticalization, Refunctionalization and Beyond"

A special issue of Languages (ISSN 2226-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 October 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Dorien Nieuwenhuijsen

Department of Languages, Literature and Communication, Utrecht University
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Interests: historical linguistics; Spanish syntax; language variation and change in Modern Spanish of Spain and Spanish America
Guest Editor
Dr. Mar Garachana

Department of Hispanic Studies, Literary Theory and Communication, Barcelona University
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Interests: historical linguistics; Spanish syntax; language variation and change in Modern Spanish of Spain and Spanish America

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue examines the usefulness of a particular set of concepts and notions and their applicability to specific morphosyntactic changes in Spanish. The concepts we are referring to were proposed in the past 30 years in order to explain instances of language change for which grammaticalization theory could not provide a proper and satisfactory description. In his well-known and much-debated article of 1990, Lass launched the notion of exaptation, i.e. "the opportunistic co-optation of a feature whose origin is unrelated or only marginally related to its later use". A decade later, connecting with Lass' original idea, Pountain (2000) coined the term capitalization, to refer to "the historical process by which a linguistic feature which already exists in a language comes to be substantially exploited for wider purposes". Subsequently, Smith (2011) introduced the notions of refunctionalization and adfunctionalization in order to distinguish between cases of language change in which an original function was lost and those in which a new function was added to the original one. This Special Issue aims to make a contribution to the large number of studies that, over the years, have reviewed and explored the above-cited proposals and, at the same time, intends to enhance our knowledge of the evolution of the Spanish language.

Therefore, we welcome papers that address instances of language change in Spanish and discuss these changes in the light of the previously mentioned concepts.

Dr. Dorien Nieuwenhuijsen
Dr. Mar Garachana
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Languages is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Spanish
  • Latin
  • language change
  • refunctionalization
  • grammaticalization

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Grammatical Words and Spreading of Contexts: Evidence from the Spanish Preposition a
Languages 2019, 4(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages4010010 (registering DOI)
Received: 2 January 2019 / Revised: 1 February 2019 / Accepted: 1 February 2019 / Published: 15 February 2019
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Abstract
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, [...] Read more.
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. Full article
Open AccessArticle Refunctionalization. First-Person Plural of the Verb Haber in the History of Spanish
Received: 10 October 2018 / Revised: 24 January 2019 / Accepted: 24 January 2019 / Published: 31 January 2019
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Abstract
In this paper, the first-person plural diachronic behaviour of the verb form habemos with an existential value is analysed to explore its recovery in current Spanish as a case of refunctionalization. The latter is understood as timely cooptation of a form, which begins [...] Read more.
In this paper, the first-person plural diachronic behaviour of the verb form habemos with an existential value is analysed to explore its recovery in current Spanish as a case of refunctionalization. The latter is understood as timely cooptation of a form, which begins with any of the form’s characteristics. It is known that the cooptation’s origin might be directly, indirectly or not at all related to the previous or original use of the form. Results shown here are based on the analysis of constructions in which the first-person plural verb form of haber is used with a possessive meaning, as an auxiliary, and as existential between the 13th and 21st century. While grammaticalization theory pays attention to processes that culminate with grammatical enrichment of words or constructions, the verb form habemos with an existential meaning does not show that behaviour. It is explained as a case of refunctionalization or, at least, specialization. Full article
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Open AccessArticle On the History of Ante(s): Exaptation of Adverbial –s?
Received: 6 October 2018 / Revised: 11 November 2018 / Accepted: 19 November 2018 / Published: 23 November 2018
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Abstract
In this paper we will describe the historical development of the Spanish doublet ante-antes (‘before’) and explore the question whether a process of exaptation is involved (cf. Lass 1990). We will argue that the final –s of antes, that originally [...] Read more.
In this paper we will describe the historical development of the Spanish doublet ante-antes (‘before’) and explore the question whether a process of exaptation is involved (cf. Lass 1990). We will argue that the final –s of antes, that originally marked the adverbial status of the word, in the course of time had become a kind of morphological ‘junk’ (cf. Lass 1990) and, subsequently, could be exploited in order to encode the semantic opposition between temporal meaning on the one hand, and adversative meaning on the other hand. However, based on quantitative data we will show that the incipient semantic redistribution over the course of the 16th century rather suddenly collapsed, leading to a differentiation between the prepositional ante and adverbial antes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Indefinite Article + Possessive + Noun in Spanish: A Case of Refunctionalization?
Received: 9 October 2018 / Accepted: 14 November 2018 / Published: 19 November 2018
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Abstract
The phenomenon under discussion is an example of a grammatical change that can be explained by refunctionalization, and as such, can be understood as the acquisition of a new meaning by an ‘endangered’ grammatical construction, which is reassigned to express another value. Refunctionalization [...] Read more.
The phenomenon under discussion is an example of a grammatical change that can be explained by refunctionalization, and as such, can be understood as the acquisition of a new meaning by an ‘endangered’ grammatical construction, which is reassigned to express another value. Refunctionalization involves the development of a new function (in this case a syntactic-semantic one). When an item loses its function, or is marginal within a system, it can be lost (as happens with the construction under study in Standard Spanish), it can be ‘saved’ as a marginal element (as in some areas of American Spanish varieties) or it can be reused for other purposes (as in the Central American Spanish varieties). The latter case presents new discursive values. Hence, this construction should be understood as an example of reusing grammatical functionally opaque material for new purposes. Full article
Open AccessArticle Exaptation, Refunctionalization, Decapitalization—BE + Past Participle with Intransitive Verbs in Mediaeval and Early Modern Spanish
Received: 9 October 2018 / Revised: 1 November 2018 / Accepted: 1 November 2018 / Published: 14 November 2018
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Abstract
The chapter presents the current state of research concerning the development of the BE + past participle constructions from Latin to Spanish. Starting from the description in Rosemeyer (2014) and the theoretical background collated in Kailuweit and Rosemeyer (2015), it will be shown [...] Read more.
The chapter presents the current state of research concerning the development of the BE + past participle constructions from Latin to Spanish. Starting from the description in Rosemeyer (2014) and the theoretical background collated in Kailuweit and Rosemeyer (2015), it will be shown that the functional change does not follow traditional grammaticalization paths. Several concepts that deal with cases contradicting traditional grammaticalization theory will be discussed. ‘Exaption’ (Lass 1990, 1997), focusing on total defunctionalization does not account for the fact that the resultative value of the BE + past participle construction, marginal in Latin, becomes central in Mediaeval Spanish. ‘Refunctionalization’ Smith (2008, 2011) captures this aspect in a more appropriate way. However, the development of the construction could be also conceived as the opposite of what Pountain (2000) describes as ‘capitalization’: a process of ‘decapitalization,’ by which a feature is exploited, not for wider, but for more restricted purposes. Full article
Open AccessArticle Refunctionalization and Usage Frequency: An Exploratory Questionnaire Study
Received: 9 October 2018 / Accepted: 19 October 2018 / Published: 23 October 2018
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Abstract
This paper explores the relationship between refunctionalization and usage frequency. In particular, it argues that (a) refunctionalization is more likely for low-frequency construction than high-frequency constructions, and that (b) high-frequency patterns are more likely candidates as models for refunctionalization processes than low-frequency patterns. [...] Read more.
This paper explores the relationship between refunctionalization and usage frequency. In particular, it argues that (a) refunctionalization is more likely for low-frequency construction than high-frequency constructions, and that (b) high-frequency patterns are more likely candidates as models for refunctionalization processes than low-frequency patterns. It proposes that folk etymology processes be characterized as a type of refunctionalization process because in folk etymology, obsolescent and semantically void morphemes are replaced with morphemes that actually serve a function in language. This assumption allows for an empirical investigation of refunctionalization using an exploratory questionnaire study. The results indicate that usage frequency indeed plays a role in folk etymology processes, and consequently, refunctionalization. In particular, participants were more likely to accept false etymologies when the proposed etymon had a high usage frequency than when it had a low usage frequency. In summary, the present study proposes a way to study refunctionalization processes in synchrony. Full article
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