Andrew D. M. Smith
This article examines the relevance of grammaticalisation to language evolution. It discusses the evolution of language, the pathways of grammaticalisation, the cognitive basis of grammaticalisation, and protolanguage and pre-linguistic communication. The analysis reveals that cognitive mechanisms underpinning grammaticalisation are not specifically linguistic, but derive from the principles of ostensive-inferential communication. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that pre-linguistic communication was based on these same principles, which allows us to gain insights into how language evolved from a non-linguistic state by studying grammaticalisation.
Bernd Heine and Tania Kuteva
This article aims to focus on the studies of grammaticalization that can be applied for reconstructing earlier phases in the evolution of language. Grammaticalization theory offers a tool for pushing linguistic reconstruction back to earlier phases of linguistic evolution, that is, to phases where human language or languages can be assumed to be different in structure from today's languages. Grammaticalization is defined as a process involving the development from lexical to grammatical forms, and from grammatical to even more grammatical forms and constructions. The assumptions and observations underlying the methodology of grammaticalization theory include development from early language to modern languages involved linguistic change, in which an important force driving linguistic change is creativity. Linguistic forms and structures have not necessarily been designed for the functions they currently serve. The grammaticalization of demonstratives shows that functional categories may change in such a way that they bear little resemblance to their original design. The first step in this process is from demonstrative to definite article and subsequently the element may develop further to be used for indefinite reference, and in a final stage the demonstrative may turn into a semantically largely empty marker of nominalization. Grammatical forms such as case, agreement, and voice markers are regarded as the result of gradual evolution, so that the earliest stage of human language that is reconstructable by the methodology of grammaticalization theory must have lacked grammatical categories such as case, agreement, and voice.