MOTIVATING CERTAIN VARIATION PATTERNS IN DEGREE CONSTRUCTIONS: SEMANTICS MEETS GRAMMATICALIZATION
The author analyzes patterns of variation in degree constructions as ultimately semantically motivated (Beck et al. 2004); - more precisely, as rooted at the (structured) level of logical form via a parameter based on binding. The paper pursues two related objectives. First, he complements the sharp distinction between languages like Japanese vs. English with a case of a language that seems to be parametrically intermediate.He suggests that Modern Romanian is sensitive to largely the same configurations which are conspicuous in the Japanese/English split, but that it marks the relevant dependencies overtly. Second, he probes for the grammaticalization process of the pertinent functional items involved in marking degree dependencies by conducting a diachronic pilot study. In this part of the article, he analyzes data from (literary) Old Romanian. He investigates the degree constructions at this stage of the language in preliminary fashion and points out that they display a particularly instable situation with regard to the diagnostics of the degree parameter discussed, a factor which may have enhanced the grammaticalization of the particular strategies under discussion and hence co-motivates the apparently idiosyncratic current distribution in the language.
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