Edited by Kristel Van Goethem, Muriel Norde, Evie Coussé and Gudrun Vanderbauwhede
[Constructional Approaches to Language 20] 2018
► pp. 15–46
Chapter 2. Category genesis in Chitimacha
A constructional approach
The genesis of new lexical categories poses a challenge to theories of diachronic change: If there are no pre-existing words in the class to analogize to, how does the category arise? This paper shows that a constructional approach to category change successfully accounts for the genesis of a diverse class of preverbs in Chitimacha, an isolate of the U.S. Southeast linguistic area. It is shown that what enabled the creation of the preverb category was schematization across a variety of forms with similar properties, namely, a preverbal syntactic position and a directional semantics. Category genesis can therefore be viewed as simply a special case of constructionalization wherein schematization plays a crucial role.
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