The study addresses the relationship between diachronic change and synchronic polysemy based on the use of diminutives in four closely related Southeastern Mande languages. It explores the synchronic patterns of use of cognate diminutive markers deriving from the word ‘child’, and accounts for differences between the languages in terms of a Radial Category network, which is designed to capture in one representation both mechanisms of diachronic change and mechanisms of regular meaning extension. The study argues that the same approach can be used to account for the ways diminutive markers acquire new meanings and for the ways an old diminutive category disintegrates, when new markers start replacing the old one in some of the core diminutive functions. The invasion and expansion of new markers may result in discontinuous semantic structures that can only be understood when the diachrony is taken into account (in this particular case study, the evidence for historical change comes from a synchronic comparison with closely related languages).
Bearth, Thomas. 1971. L’Énoncé toura (Côte d’Ivoire). Norman, OK: SIL of the University of Oklahoma.
Bearth, Thomas. 1986. L’articulation du temps et de l’aspect dans le discours toura. Bern: Peter Lang.
Croft, William, Hava Bat-Zeev Shyldkrot & Suzanne Kemmer. 1987. Diachronic semantic processes in the middle voice. In Anna Giacolone Ramat, Onofrio Carruba & Giuliano Bernini (eds.), Papers from the 7th international conference on historical linguistics, 179–192. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Dressler, Wolfgang U & Lavinia Merlini Barbaresi. 1994. Morphopragmatics: Diminutives and intensifiers in Italian, German, and other languages (Trends in Linguistics Studies and Monographs 76). Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Gordon, Raymond G., Jr (ed.). 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the world, 15th. Dallas: SIL International. http://www.ethnologue.com/ (accessed 26 December 2011).
Greenberg, Joseph H. 1959. Africa as a linguistic area. In William R. Bascom & Melville J. Herskovits (eds.), Continuity and change in African cultures, 15–27. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Heine, Bernd, Ulrike Claudi & Hünnemeyer Friederike. 1991. Grammaticalization. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Heine, Bernd & Tania Kuteva. 2002. World lexicon of grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Heine, Bernd & Zelealem Leyew. 2008. Is Africa a linguistic area? In Bernd Heine & Derek Nurse (eds.), A linguistic geography of Africa, 15–35. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lakoff, George. 1987. Women, fire, and dangerous things. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, Barbara. 2007. Polysemy, prototypes, and radial categories. In Dirk Geeraerts & Hubert Cuyckens (eds.), The Oxford handbook of cognitive linguistics, 139–169. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Matisoff, James A. 1991. The mother of all morphemes: Augmentatives and diminutives in areal and universal perspective. In Martha Ratliff & Eric Schiller (eds.), Papers from the 1st annual meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society, 293–349. Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University program for Southeast Asian Studies.
Nikitina, Tatiana. 2008. The mixing of syntactic properties and language change. Stanford, CA: Stanford University dissertation.
Nikitina, Tatiana. 2009. The syntax of PPs in Wan, an “SOVX” language. Studies in Language 33(4). 907–930.
Nikitina, Tatiana. 2018a. When linguists and speakers do not agree: The endangered grammar of verbal art in West Africa. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 28(2). 197–220.
Nikitina, Tatiana. 2018b. Verb phrase external arguments in Mande: New evidence for obligatory extraposition. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 1–42. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-018-9417-0)| false
Linguistics publishes articles and book reviews in the traditional disciplines of linguistics as well as in neighboring disciplines insofar as these are deemed to be of interest to linguists and other students of natural language. The journal also features occasional Special Issues in these fields.