Reduction or expansion? A bit of both. A case study on the development of German degree modifiers

  • Following Traugott’s (2007, 2008a,b) research on the grammaticalization of English degree modifiers, this paper explores the history of a family of very similar quantifier/degree-modifier constructions in German. In particular, we present a detailed diachronic analysis of ein bisschen (‘a bitDIM’) and ein wenig (‘a little’). On the basis of data from the German Text Archive (Deutsches Textarchiv) and the historical archive of the German Reference Corpus (Deutsches Referenzkorpus), we examine to what extent these constructions followed a grammaticalization path comparable to the one Traugott observed for their English counterparts. Quantitative analyses on the gradual context expansion of ein wenig and ein bisschen are combined with qualitative analyses on potential bridging contexts allowing for reanalysis to occur. Diachronically, there is a reduction in individual formal variation as the constructions converge in their behaviour. Their combined histories suggest that the older German modifiers may have served as attractorFollowing Traugott’s (2007, 2008a,b) research on the grammaticalization of English degree modifiers, this paper explores the history of a family of very similar quantifier/degree-modifier constructions in German. In particular, we present a detailed diachronic analysis of ein bisschen (‘a bitDIM’) and ein wenig (‘a little’). On the basis of data from the German Text Archive (Deutsches Textarchiv) and the historical archive of the German Reference Corpus (Deutsches Referenzkorpus), we examine to what extent these constructions followed a grammaticalization path comparable to the one Traugott observed for their English counterparts. Quantitative analyses on the gradual context expansion of ein wenig and ein bisschen are combined with qualitative analyses on potential bridging contexts allowing for reanalysis to occur. Diachronically, there is a reduction in individual formal variation as the constructions converge in their behaviour. Their combined histories suggest that the older German modifiers may have served as attractor sets for an increasingly strengthened mid-level quantifier/degree-modifier schema, promoting the emergence of younger modifiers such as ein Quäntchen (‘a quantumDIM’) and ein Tick (‘a tick’) via analogy. These observations stress the crucial role that network links between constructions can play in grammaticalization.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Institutes:Fakultät Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften / Lehrstuhl für Deutsche Sprachwissenschaft
Author:Jakob Neels, Stefan Hartmann
Place of publication:Bamberg
Publisher:OPUS
Year of publication:2018
Pages / Size:1 pdf-Datei (35 S.)
Source/Other editions:Ursprünglich in: Grammaticalization meets construction grammar / edited by Evie Coussé, Peter Andersson, Joel Olofsson, University of Gothenburg. - (Constructional approaches to language ; volume 21). - Amsterdam ; Philadelphia, 2018, S. 137-168
SWD-Keyword:Deutsch ; Steigerungspartikel
DDC-Classification:4 Sprache / 43 Deutsch, germanische Sprachen allgemein / 430 Germanische Sprachen; Deutsch
RVK-Classification:GC 7117
URL:https://opus4.kobv.de/opus4-bamberg/frontdoor/index/index/docId/52852
URN:urn:nbn:de:bvb:473-opus4-526883
DOI:https://doi.org/10.20378/irbo-52688
Document Type:Variety of texts
Language:English
Peer Review:Ja
Internationale Verbreitung:Ja
Publishing Institution:Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg
Release Date:2018/10/22