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Expressivity as the trigger of language change ---A study on Chinese degree intensifier Emmie Li National Tsing Hua University De Lin Institute of Technology Motivations of Morphological Changes Language acquisition (Anderson1973, Chomsky 1981, Lightfoot 1989) Language contact (Sapir 1921, Bynon 1977, Hock 1991) Speech Function (Langacker 1977, Haiman 1983) Changes Motivated by Speech Function Changes in meaning 1. Semantic Extension (Lichtenberk 1991) It occurs whenfunction to “integrate new The speakers the speakers are searching Changes in are trying information alwaysmeaning are original in searching is already Speakersword with information that new and ways to maximize the informativeness of accessible.” (Blakemore 1990) innovative ways communication. of intensifying things to enhance expressivity. 2. Bleaching (Hopper & Traugott 1993) original meaning word Changes Motivated by Speech Function Changes in meaning Changes in function verb 1. Divergence lexical word item > morphology (Meillet 1958) 2. Renewal Words are renewed with more expressive ways for 3. Specialization thing. saying the same If many new items are generated and applied around the same time, a potential hierarchy of vividness is formed according to listener’s perception. The topmost ones will be used more frequently than others. Changes of Chinese Intensifiers Lexical originated Eg. luan :V., of being expressive The need ‘to disturb’ → luan: Adv. (intensifier), very A Holistic View 2. Frequent use of certain 1. A potential frequent-used 3. When the hierarchy of vividness ismay lead an intensifiers formed when words cease to maketo a reduction items are impression, a new orapplied these newin vividness. around the terms are The Then, new same time. renewed one will come into topmost ones will be used use. expected again. more frequently. Renewal Specialization Changes of Chinese Intensifiers Lexical originated The need of being expressive A Discrete View Semantic 超 chau (V. ‘to cross) extension (V. ‘to overtake’) (V. ‘to cross’) Divergence (Adj. ‘outstanding) Divergence (Adv. ‘very’) (V. ‘to overtake’) (Adj. ‘outstanding) (V. ‘to cross) (V. ‘to overtake’) (V. ‘to cross) Changes of Chinese Intensifiers Lexical originated The need of being expressive A Discrete View dying out 夠 gou (V. ‘to gather’) Bleaching (V. ‘to satisfy’) (V. ‘to gather’) Divergence (Adv. ‘extremely) (V. ‘to satisfy’) (V. ‘to gather’) disappeared Conclusion Motivation of expressivity Lexical originated Changes involved in individual development: semantic extension, divergence, bleaching. The grammaticalization of the whole system: circulating between process of renewal and specialization.
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