Edited by Peter Lauwers, Gudrun Vanderbauwhede and Stijn Verleyen
[Benjamins Current Topics 44] 2012
► pp. 117–139
É vida, olha…: Imperatives as discourse markers and grammaticalization paths in Romance
A diachronic corpus study
In this paper, we investigate the evolution from imperatives to discourse markers in Romance, with a corpus-based approach. We focus on the case of items coming from verbs meaning ‘to look’, in a semasiological perspective: Spanish and Catalan mira, Portuguese olha, Italian guarda, French regarde, Romanian uite. We show that they all share many uses, among which turn-taking, introduction of reported speech, hesitation phenomenon, topic-shifting and modalization, except for French regarde. We then establish (against Waltereit, 2002) that the development of these uses is the result of a process of grammaticalization, from lexical, clause-internal uses to uses as discourse markers, in a cline which tends to confirm the predictions made by Brinton and Traugott (2005). The lesser grammaticalization of French regarde could seem unimportant, but is in apparent contradiction with the now well-established fact that French is, of all Romance languages, the most grammaticalized. We try, in conclusion, to address this paradox: is French not so grammaticalized after all, or is this just an exception to the rule?