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The functional nature of pronominal change: innovative plural pronouns in English and Dutch

Gunther De Vogelaer (UGent) and Evie Coussé (UGent)
(2011) NEOPHILOLOGUS. 95(1). p.1-26
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Abstract
At least since Gillieron's seminal work on lexical change, it is well-known that language change may be motivated by factors relating to the meaning and/or function of the elements involved. In more recent times, however, such functional accounts of language change have generally met with criticism. More specifically, there is disagreement as to whether grammar really is subject to processes of homonymy avoidance. This paper discusses examples of pronominal change from English and Dutch, in which new plural forms are formed which are, historically, compounds of a traditional pronoun and an element marking plurality (e. g. you guys in English, jij lieden or jullie in Dutch). Such innovative pronouns typically emerge in contact varieties, as reinforced pronouns or calques, and they appear to spread much more easily wherever they fill a disturbing gap in the pronominal paradigm, viz. in situations of so-called 'horizontal homophony'. Thus, homonymy avoidance has played a crucial role in the processes by which innovative plural pronouns have diffused. This shows that pronominal change qualifies as a clear exception to the alleged rarity of functionally motivated change in grammar.
Keywords
Functional explanation, Language change, AGREEMENT, Pronoun, Dutch, Homonymy avoidance

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
De Vogelaer, Gunther, and Evie Coussé. “The Functional Nature of Pronominal Change: Innovative Plural Pronouns in English and Dutch.” NEOPHILOLOGUS 95.1 (2011): 1–26. Print.
APA
De Vogelaer, G., & Coussé, E. (2011). The functional nature of pronominal change: innovative plural pronouns in English and Dutch. NEOPHILOLOGUS, 95(1), 1–26.
Chicago author-date
De Vogelaer, Gunther, and Evie Coussé. 2011. “The Functional Nature of Pronominal Change: Innovative Plural Pronouns in English and Dutch.” Neophilologus 95 (1): 1–26.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
De Vogelaer, Gunther, and Evie Coussé. 2011. “The Functional Nature of Pronominal Change: Innovative Plural Pronouns in English and Dutch.” Neophilologus 95 (1): 1–26.
Vancouver
1.
De Vogelaer G, Coussé E. The functional nature of pronominal change: innovative plural pronouns in English and Dutch. NEOPHILOLOGUS. 2011;95(1):1–26.
IEEE
[1]
G. De Vogelaer and E. Coussé, “The functional nature of pronominal change: innovative plural pronouns in English and Dutch,” NEOPHILOLOGUS, vol. 95, no. 1, pp. 1–26, 2011.
@article{973951,
  abstract     = {At least since Gillieron's seminal work on lexical change, it is well-known that language change may be motivated by factors relating to the meaning and/or function of the elements involved. In more recent times, however, such functional accounts of language change have generally met with criticism. More specifically, there is disagreement as to whether grammar really is subject to processes of homonymy avoidance. This paper discusses examples of pronominal change from English and Dutch, in which new plural forms are formed which are, historically, compounds of a traditional pronoun and an element marking plurality (e. g. you guys in English, jij lieden or jullie in Dutch). Such innovative pronouns typically emerge in contact varieties, as reinforced pronouns or calques, and they appear to spread much more easily wherever they fill a disturbing gap in the pronominal paradigm, viz. in situations of so-called 'horizontal homophony'. Thus, homonymy avoidance has played a crucial role in the processes by which innovative plural pronouns have diffused. This shows that pronominal change qualifies as a clear exception to the alleged rarity of functionally motivated change in grammar.},
  author       = {De Vogelaer, Gunther and Coussé, Evie},
  issn         = {0028-2677},
  journal      = {NEOPHILOLOGUS},
  keywords     = {Functional explanation,Language change,AGREEMENT,Pronoun,Dutch,Homonymy avoidance},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {1--26},
  title        = {The functional nature of pronominal change: innovative plural pronouns in English and Dutch},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11061-010-9210-8},
  volume       = {95},
  year         = {2011},
}

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