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date: 22 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article presents a case study concerning the differences between iconicity and grammaticalisation, focusing on the Hua and Khmer languages. It explains that among the universally acknowledged side-effects of economically motivated reduction in general and grammaticalization is the loss of semantic transparency and that one striking example of the trade-off between transparency and compactness is offered by the relatively exotic grammatical category of medial verbs commonly found in many Papuan languages. It contends that grammaticalisation through everyday use is the constant, cunning, and patient adversary of iconicity.

Keywords: iconicity, grammaticalisation, Hua language, Khmer language, semantic transparency, medial verbs, Papuan languages

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