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Open Access The Evolution of the Demonstrative System in Greek

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The Evolution of the Demonstrative System in Greek

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The distribution of the Greek demonstratives, i.e. the available word order options, has remained constant throughout the history of the language, from Ancient to Modern Greek (henceforth AG and MG); however, the lexical items participating in it have not. Greek passes from a tripartite to a bipartite system, a cross-linguistically common development (Frei 1944: 119, Lyons 1999: 110). The facts and chronology of the evolution are known, but the causes behind it remain obscure. This paper attempts to explain them.The pivot of this account is the re-interpretation of the AG demonstrative system as relying mainly not on person distinctions but on distinctions of distance and deixis vs. anaphora. By comparing synchronic systems of the language, facts acquire a new significance and a unified picture emerges. It is also demonstrated that Greek constitutes a clear counter-example to cross-linguistically well attested grammaticalisation patterns concerning the evolution of demonstrative pronouns, which thus cannot be argued to have universal value.First, a short history of the process of lexical replacement is given, then an analysis of the AG demonstrative system is developed, and finally the new suggestions concerning the causality of the developments is elaborated.The distribution of the Greek demonstratives, i.e. the available word order options, has remained constant throughout the history of the language, from Ancient to Modern Greek (henceforth AG and MG);1 however, the lexical items participating in it have not. Greek passes from a tripartite to a bipartite system, a cross-linguistically common development (Frei 1944: 119, Lyons 1999: 110).2 The facts and chronology of the evolution are known, but the causes behind it remain obscure. This paper attempts to explain them. <br /> The pivot of this account is the re-interpretation of the AG demonstrative system as relying mainly not on person distinctions but on distinctions of distance and deixis vs. anaphora.3 By comparing synchronic systems of the language, facts acquire a new significance and a unified picture emerges. It is also demonstrated that Greek constitutes a clear counter-example to cross-linguistically well attested grammaticalisation patterns concerning the evolution of demonstrative pronouns, which thus cannot be argued to have universal value. <br /> First, a short history of the process of lexical replacement is given, then an analysis of the AG demonstrative system is developed, and finally the new suggestions concerning the causality of the developments is elaborated.

10.1075/jgl.2.05man
/content/journals/10.1075/jgl.2.05man
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/content/journals/10.1075/jgl.2.05man
2002-01-01
2016-12-02

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