What makes grammaticalization

What makes grammaticalization: A look from its fringes and its components. Ed. by Walter Bisang, Nikolaus P. Himmelmann, and Björn Wiemer. (Trends in linguistics 158.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2004. Pp. vi, 354. ISBN 3110181525. $137 (Hb).

Reviewed by Debra Ziegeler, IPrA Research Center, Antwerp

What makes grammaticalization is a comprehensive volume comprising eleven chapters of new works put together following a workshop organized by one of the editors, Björn Wiemer, with the title ‘Grammatikalisierung vs. Lexikalisierung’, 1–3 February 2001 in Constance, Germany. The aims of the workshop were to address two main questions: first, the distinctions between grammaticalization and lexicalization, and second, whether it is possible to include under a broader description of grammaticalization the areas less likely to conform to the strict parameters first established by Lehmann, such as the grammaticalization of grammatical material not generally associated with morphological analysis (Christian Lehmann, Thoughts on grammaticalization , LINCOM Europa, 1995). Nearly half of the chapters are at least partially devoted to research in Slavic languages.

The book is composed of four parts: ‘General issues’, ‘On building grammar from below and from above: Between phonology and pragmatics’, ‘Grammatical derivation’, and ‘The role of lexical semantics and of constructions’. There are a subject index, an author index, and a language index. In Part 1, Björn Wiemer and Walter Bisang, offer an overview of the current research on grammaticalization and an introduction to the range of topics offered in the chapters that follow. ‘Lexicalization and grammaticalization’, by Nikolaus P. Himmelmann, addresses the problems associated with the element-based approach to grammaticalization and the necessity for studying grammaticalizing elements within their syntagmatic environments. With regard to the distinctions between lexicalization and grammaticalization, Himmelmann emphasizes that lexical generality is the most important distinguishing feature of the two processes.

In Part 2, Livio Gaeta’s chapter, ‘Exploring grammaticalization from below’, focuses on morphological elements in grammaticalization as a counter motivation for degrammaticalization, in that the functional and semantic efficiency of morphemes over lexemes creates the unidirectionality of grammaticalization processes. Susanne Günthner and Katrin Mutz discuss the development of pragmatic markers from subordinators in German and Italian in independent subordinate clauses occurring in spoken discourse, suggesting the adoption of the term ‘pragmaticalization’, as a subcategory of grammaticalization. Bisang’s chapter on ‘Grammaticalization without coevolution of form and meaning’ discusses tense, aspect, and modality in mainland Southeast Asian languages, addressing, among other questions, the suggestion of a past tense emerging in Mandarin Chinese. He concludes that there is insufficient evidence in such languages for the precise form-meaning relationships found in Indo-European languages, and that their overall pragmatic polyfunctionality precludes a strictly temporal reference function for the Chinese perfective marker. Daniel Weiss’s chapter on the rise of the indefinite article in Macedonian provides evidence that the specification of the noun phrase by attributives or relative clauses is a stronger determining factor of grammaticalization than simply referential status alone.

In Part 3, Volkmar Lehmann, in ‘Grammaticalization via extending derivation’, looks at Russian aspectual categories and offers a broader notion of grammaticalization in which the nature of Slavic aspect is seen as derivational, not inflectional. Katharina Böttger, in a corpus study covering seventeenth-century texts, also studies Russian aspectual morphology and concurs with Lehmann that the expression of aspect in verb stems with affixes characterizes a grammaticalization that does not involve any accompanying formal changes.

In Part 4, Ekkehard König and Letizia Vezzosi discuss the grammaticalization of reflexivity, arguing that the interpretation of predicates as other-directed vs. non-other-directed, the feature of contrast where the former type is concerned, and the environment of third-person singular subjects will together provide the optimum historical conditions for the onset of grammaticalization of reflexive markers in English and other languages. Björn Hansen’s chapter discusses modality in Slavic languages using semantic maps and suggests that this category is less grammaticalized than either tense or mood, but does reflect the framework of grammaticalization proposed by Lehmann (1995). Wiemer’s chapter, the longest and final chapter in the book, discusses the evolution of passives as grammatical constructions in Northern Slavic and Baltic languages, using a basic role and reference grammar analysis, and arrives at the conclusion that since passives are not an obligatory category and do not alter the lexical meaning of the active counterpart predicate, they constitute a special case of grammaticalization of a construction, rather than a morphological category.

In all, the collection presents some interesting questions and challenges for the development of grammaticalization theory generally, providing a great deal of impetus for similar future research endeavors in the field. If one criticism should be raised, it would only be in presentational aspects, where for some of the chapters more thorough proofreading might have been possible, and perhaps the inclusion of interlinear glosses for readers not familiar with the languages under discussion.