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From body to argumentation: grammaticalization as a fractal property of language (the case of Wolof ginnaaw)

Abstract : This paper uses the example of ginnaaw, a polysemous morpheme of Wolof, to demonstrate that grammaticalization can be understood as one of what may be called the FRACTAL PROPERTIES of language. In fact, ginnaaw's synchronic uses across three syntactic categories (noun, preposition and subordinating conjunction) can be described as a common semantic structure applying at different levels inside the utterance, thanks to the syntactic flexibility of the term. This fractal model can thus account for the phenomenon of grammaticalization and, more generally, the transcategorial functioning of linguistic morphemes, by relating semantic variation (and argumentation) to syntax: the variation of the syntactic scope of the morpheme produces its polysemy. The term ginnaaw also reveals connections between body, space, causality and argumentation. These different domains have common topological properties which allow the same term to refer to all of them. Ginnaaw expresses a spatial framing in which discourse is shaped in a topological way as a landscape with orientations. The orientation defined by ginnaaw's semantics explains the argumentative values of this morpheme
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Submitted on : Thursday, April 6, 2006 - 5:55:13 PM
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Stéphane Robert. From body to argumentation: grammaticalization as a fractal property of language (the case of Wolof ginnaaw). Berkeley Linguistics Society, 1997, 23S, pp.116-127. ⟨hal-00022366⟩

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