The future of ‘future’
A Persian perspective on grammaticalization of future marking
Bybee et al. (1994) claimed that grammatical-types like past and future have similar paths of development cross-linguistically. Following another line of research, Poplack (2011), Poplack and Tagliamonte (2000) and Walker et al. (2004) explored the grammaticalization of periphrastic ‘go-future’ in English, French, and Spanish from a variationist perspective and have come to the same conclusion. In this study we explore whether a new Persian future marker, MI_KHA: ‘want/will/going to’, which is gaining ground in this language, can be an instance of the grammatical-types mentioned above, and follows the same path of variation and change as that of English and French. Eight-hundred and one future-referring utterances were collected from natural conversations among Persian native speakers and subjected to variable rule analysis to discover the factors conditioning their use and variation. The findings suggest that the Persian MI_KHA: is not only conditioned by linguistic factors, it also most likely follows a path of development similar to English and French.