Specialization (linguistics)



linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and structure. Lingui ...
, the term ''specialization'' (as defined by Paul Hopper), refers to one of the five principles by which
grammaticalization In historical linguistics, grammaticalization (also known as grammatization or grammaticization) is a process of language change by which words representing objects and actions (i.e. nouns and verbs) become grammatical markers (such as affixes or p ...
can be detected while it is taking place. The other four principles are:
layering Layering has evolved as a common means of vegetative propagation of numerous species in natural environments. Layering is also utilized by horticulturists to propagate desirable plants. Natural layering typically occurs when a branch touches ...
divergence In vector calculus, divergence is a vector operator that operates on a vector field, producing a scalar field giving the quantity of the vector field's source at each point. More technically, the divergence represents the volume density of th ...
, persistence, and de-categorialization. Specialization refers to the narrowing of choices that characterizes an emergent
grammatical construction In linguistics, a grammatical construction is any syntactic string of words ranging from sentences over phrasal structures to certain complex lexemes, such as phrasal verbs. Grammatical constructions form the primary unit of study in constructio ...
. The lexical meaning of a grammaticalizing feature decreases in scope, so that in time the feature conveys a generalized grammatical meaning.
"Within a functional domain, at one stage a variety of forms with different
semantic Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference, meaning, or truth. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct disciplines, including philosophy, linguistics and compu ...
nuances may be possible; as grammaticalization takes place, this variety of formal choices narrows and the smaller number of forms selected assume more general grammatical meanings." (Hopper 1991: 22)


* Lessau, Donald A. A Dictionary of Grammaticalization. Bochum: Brockmeyer, 1994. * Hopper, Paul J. "On some principles of grammaticization". In Elizabeth Closs Traugott and Bernd Heine, eds. Approaches to Grammaticalization, Vol. I. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1991. pp. 17–36. Historical linguistics {{historical-linguistics-stub