Remus Gergel (University of Graz)

Decompositionality in semantic change



The way apparent atoms of overt syntax can be decomposed semantically has received a good deal of attention in synchronic terms. The aim of this talk is to argue (i) that the view can be used beneficially in diachronic research as well - as a benchmark to test for, but also, ideally, in order to sharpen theories of change, and (ii) conversely, that in certain cases diachronic semantics has something to say when it comes to deciding between analyses of potential decompositional items. Drawing on recent diachronic studies, I will seek to make a case to this effect by considering a selection of pertinent items of two kinds, i.e. including the original decomposition of words like 'rather' (and somewhat similarly 'eher' in German) as well as the trajectories of so-called decompositional adverbs like those of the Ďagainí family.