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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter discusses morphological and syntactic change against the backdrop of different theoretical (formal versus functional/usage-based) and methodological approaches (introspection versus corpus data). Specifically, it addresses the question whether grammatical change happens suddenly in a catastrophic resetting of parameters or whether change happens in a more piecemeal, incremental fashion. The case studies that are used to illustrate syntactic demise, innovation, and grammatical revival come from the area of mood (an inflectional category) and modality, notably the grammaticalization of modal verbs. Semi-modals such as (had) better are discussed as examples of constructionalization. Taken together, grammatical changes in mood and modality are ideally suited to exemplify more long-term typological developments in English from a synthetic to a largely analytic language.

Keywords: catastrophic versus incremental change, grammaticalization, constructionalization, syntactic demise, grammatical revival, mood, modal verbs, synthetic versus analytic

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