Cyclical grammaticalization and the cognitive link between pronoun and copula
Copeland, James E.
Doctor of Philosophy
The process of grammaticalization is the transition from a less "grammatical" state to one that is more so. But the results of the process, if we follow the history of any given linguistic unit as it undergoes grammaticalization over and over again, may involve achieving a state similar to one that was in effect at an earlier stage of its history. The phenomenon explored in this dissertation is the grammaticalization of pronouns into copulas and copulas into pronouns. A crosslinguistic examination of copulas in ten languages, Chinese, English, Finnish, French, Hebrew, Hungarian, Korean, Russian, Turkish, and Vietnamese, reveals the following functional tendencies: (1) one morpheme is used for possession and existence, and (2) another is used for identity and class membership. It is from these equative copulas in (2) that third person pronouns are developed, and it is from third person subject pronouns that we get newly formed copulas. The following instances of grammaticalization of pronoun and copula are demonstrated here: (1) Chinese--pronoun to copula (2) Hebrew (Biblical to Modern)--pronoun to copula (3) Finnish--pronoun to copula (4) Turkish--copula to pronoun (5) Hebrew (pre-proto-Semitic to Biblical)--copula to pronoun The Hebrew example, combining (2) and (5) above, provides us with a full cycle, from copula to pronoun to copula. At each step, the unit becomes more bleached and conventionalized. Starting from a form of a stative verb with marking for conjugation, gender, number and person, it becomes a demonstrative pronoun, marked only for person, gender and number, and then is transformed once more to a copula, marked only for number and gender, but not person. Pronouns and copulas are equally abstract, but at each stage of the change from one to the other we have seen an example of generalization and conventionalization. While grammaticalization progresses along a unidirectional cline from concrete to abstract, the history of a particular linguistic unit may reveal that it has travelled the the same semantic path more than once.
Linguistics; Ancient languages; Modern language