Grammaticalization and phonological reidentification in White Hmong
The “dynamic coevolution of meaning and form” of Bybee et al. (1994: 20) has been the subject of significant discussion as regards the languages of Mainland Southeast Asia. However, little work has focused on the mechanisms through which this coevolution occurs when it does surface in these languages. The current work considers phonological reidentification resulting from phonetic reduction in White Hmong (Hmong-Mien, Laos) involving four morphemes, ntshai/ntshe ‘maybe’, saib/seb ‘see if/whether; comp.cfact’, puag/pug ‘locl;ints’, and niaj/nej ‘each, every’. These morphemes exhibit an alternation where a rime is phonologically reidentified in a manner consistent with typical phonetic underarticulation patterns, such that an exemplar-model approach (Pierrehumbert 2001, inter alia) provides a straightforward explanation. Furthermore, the data show that the phonological reidentification patterns found in White Hmong exhibit parallels in other languages in the region, confirming that an areal approach to grammaticalization provides greater descriptive adequacy cross-linguistically as regards this phenomenon.
Keywords: grammaticalization, phonological reanalysis, coevolution of meaning and form, verbal modification, linguistic area, Hmong, Southeast Asia
- 2.1Working definitions and scope
- 2.3Data sources
- 3.The data
- 3.1 Ntshai/ntshe ‘maybe’
- 3.2 Saib/seb ‘see if/whether; comp.cfact’
- 3.3 Puag/pug ‘locl;ints’
- 3.4 Niaj/nej ‘each, every’
- 4.1Areal and typological perspective
Published online: 25 May 2021
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