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Melbourne Linguistics in the Pub, 20 October 2015

Shape, University of Melbourne

Date: 20 October 2015

When: 6:00 - 8:00 pm, Tuesday 20th October
Where:  Function room (towards the rear, on the left), Naughton's Parkville hotel (NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE DUE TO ONGOING RENOVATIONS), 43 Royal Parade, Parkville Melbourne Victoria (03) 9347 2255

Stefan Schnell, a new postdoc with the Centre of Excellence in the Dynamics of Language at Melbourne Uni will be leading the discussion, please try and do the recommended reading for this session if you can.

Topic: Lexical and grammatical meaning, and grammaticalisation

In modern linguistics, we generally take more or less for granted a distinction between grammatical and lexical elements, based on differences in the nature of their functions. Thus, "[...] the difference between lexical and grammatical meaning forms an important part of the intuitive knowledge that linguists use regularly, [...]" (Bybee 1985:7). At the same time, however, it is widely accepted that grammatical elements develop diachronically from lexical elements, a process known as "grammaticalisation" (see Lehmann 2002: 8-21). It is furthermore commonly acknowledged that this process of grammaticalisation involves a loss in semantic content or lexical meaning, although some scholars have stressed the retention of particular semantic aspects of foremost lexical elements in their grammatical derivates (Bybee et al 1995: 15-17).

In this month's Linguistics in the Pub meeting we will discuss a recent usage-based approach to the distinction between lexical and grammatical meaning, and grammaticalisation, proposed by Boye & Harder (2012) who characterise grammatical elements as ancillary and conventionally non-prominent in discourse.

Recommended reading
Boye, Kasper & Peter Harder. 2012. A usage-based approach to grammatical status and grammaticalization. Language 88.1, 1-44.

Bybee, Joan. 1985. Morphology. Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Bybee, Joan & Revere Perkins & William Pagliuca. 1994. The evolution of grammar: tense, aspect, modaility in the languages of the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (available as google book).
Lehmann, Christian. 22002. Thoughts on grammaticalization. LINCOM Europa: Muenchen. pp 8-22, 33-37. Available at:

Check RNLD MLIP page for recommended (to be uploaded shortly):

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University