The Interplay Between form and Meaning in Language Change
Grammaticalization of Cannibalistic Datives in Spanish
The paper tries to show that in changes of multiple causation, meaning is a leading factor in determining the syntactic output. Although formal and semantic-pragmatic factors converge in a complementary way, they carry different weights: formal factors lay the seed for the innovative construction and the semantic-pragmatic ones act as the ultimate trigger of the change. A set of three multilevel changes in Spanish is examined; in all of them accusative and dative case-marking, in argument positions, compete for the object marking, and in all of them DAT-marking outranks the ACC one. The three changes may be characterized as a progressive grammaticalization of DAT-marking at the expense of ACC-marking, a tendency towards reinforcement of DAT objects in the history of Spanish.
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