This article discusses the development of possessive classifiers into benefactive markers in Oceanic languages. On the basis of Tabor and Traugott’s (1998) diachronic string comparison, this change episode will then be demonstrated to involve structural scope increase contrary to the widely held assumption that scope decrease is a manifestation of grammaticalization. The article also identifies as an empirically testable hypothesis the strong connection between scope increase, and the formal identity between source items and their grammaticalized descendants. Moreover, the recent controversy over the status of grammaticalization (theory) is critically appraised with the conclusion that grammaticalization has an independent status of its own and the general mechanisms of language change should be invoked to account for instances of grammaticalization.
© Walter de Gruyter