Paths of grammaticalisation of the Early Latin per/per-: a cognitive hypothesis

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Abstract

We intend to analyse the polysemic network of the Early Latin preverb per- and the relationship linking it with the corresponding preposition per ‘through’.Our corpus is constituted by Plautus’ comedies and Cato’s De Agri Cultura, which represent a substantial sample of the oldest Latin attestations in an extensive and non-fragmentary form. This choice allows a broad survey of the formerly grammaticalised usages of the preverb, constituting a firm platform to gain a perspective on its evolutionary lines.Our analysis is based on the Functional-Cognitive approach to grammaticalisation (Langacker 1987, 1991; Heine et al. 1991; Hopper & Traugott 1993), as well as on the existent functional analyses of Latin preverbs and prepositions (Pinkster 1972, 1990). Considering both prepositions9and preverbs as meaningful elements, this approach allows an explicative account, supplying suitable theoretical tools to describe the interconnection among the various senses of a polysemic entity and preventing the analysis being restricted to the assumption of a vague concept of “relatedness”.All the Indo-European languages have both prepositions and preverbs, which have developed from adverbs in a very ancient phase of Indo-European (Watkins 1964; Pinault 1995). Although prepositions and preverbs are semantically connected, their meaning convey different degrees of abstractness, reflecting different points along the grammaticalisation chain. Prepositions are autonomous items, expressing the stative (basically spatial) relationship between entities. On the other hand, preverbs form a lexical unit with the verb; they reduce the phonetic shape; lose syntactic autonomy, and are subsumed under the meaning of the verb (Lehmann 2002; Booij & Van Kemenade 2003). This behaviour is consistent with the meaning of per-, which is typically more abstract than the prepositional one: it rarely conveys spatial meanings (perfodio ‘to dig through’) and is mainly used to express abstract notions concerning the verbal process, like ‘intensification’ (vigilo ‘to remain awake’/pervigilo ‘to always remain awake’) and ‘telicity’ (fero ‘to bring’/perfero ‘to bring to an end’), even affecting the valency of the verb (repto intransitive ‘to crawl’/perrepto transitive ‘to crawl through’).These considerations put the relationship between per and per- within the field of the theory of grammaticalisation. We intend to explore the consistency of this relationship, analysing the role of the preverb’s schematic import in the spread from basic (spatial) to abstract (processual) meanings.References:Booij, G. & A. Van Kemenade. 2003. Preverbs: An introduction. In G. Booij & J. Van Marle (eds.), Yearbook of morphology 2003, 1-12. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Heine, B. et al. 1991. Grammaticalization: A conceptual framework. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Hopper, P.J. & E.C. Traugott. 1993. Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Langacker, R. 1987. Foundations of cognitive grammar. Vol. 1. Stanford: Stanford UniversityPress. Langacker, R. 1991. Foundations of cognitive grammar. Vol. 2. Stanford: Stanford UniversityPress. Lehmann, C. 1983. Latin preverbs and cases. In H. Pinkster (ed.), Latin linguistics and linguistictheory, 145–161. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Lehmann, C. 2002. Thoughts on grammaticalisation. Erfurt: Seminar für Sprachwissenschaft derUniversität.10Pinault, G.J. 1995. Le problème du préverbe en indo-européen. In A. Rousseau (ed.), Les préverbes dans les langues d’Europe: introduction à l’étude de la préverbation, 35-59. Lille: Presses Universitaires du S
Lingua originaleEnglish
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2010

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