Degrees of grammaticalization and measure constructions in Italian
Against the background of recent debate on Grammaticalization Theory, this study will provide an overview of some Italian quantifying expressions whose original head is a measure noun. The binominal expressions analysed indicate a quantity, either large or small; as such, they can be substituted by canonical quantifiers such as molto “much” or un po’ “a little”. I claim that their functioning as quantifier is the result of a process of grammaticalization, through which the original head noun of the complex construction has been reanalysed as quantifier. At a closer look, however, the degrees of grammaticalization appear different for specific items, as well as the sources providing the recruitment of new quantifiers. The specific collocational patterns that trigger the pragmatic inferences prior to their semanticization and reanalysis have not as yet received sufficient attention. Adopting a diachronic Construction Grammar approach, the paper discusses various case studies and provides a number of descriptive and theoretical insights concerning the rise of distinct grammaticalization patterns.
Keywords: form-meaning pairs, constructional approach, degrees of grammaticalization, collocational broadening, mechanisms of syntactic change, mechanisms of semantic change
Published online: 05 February 2018
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