Mechanisms of change: Reanalysis and Analogy in the Case of Grammaticalization of English Derivational Suffixes, -dom, -hood, -ship, and -ly


Sang-suk Oh

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This paper is to advance two mechanisms of linguistic change which are responsible for the process of grammaticalization of four English derivational suffixes, -dom, -hood, -ship, and -ly. They are reanalysis and analogy. Reanalysis refers to a process whereby speakers interpret linguistic categories differently causing change in boundaries, the most typical example being a compounding. Analogy refers to an extension of a certain rule or structure to other domains. Reanalysis is responsible for reinterpretation of a category into a different one; analogy causes a linguistic item to acquire a new categorical status. It is proposed in this paper that the diachronic development of the four English bound suffixes took place through the work of these two processes. All of these affixes were originally independent lexical items. But when they came after a certain noun, they were reinterpreted (or reanalyzed) as a part of the previous noun, creating a possible ground for it to be reinterpreted as a new category (i.e., suffix). Once reinterpreted, they were spread (or anaologically extended) to other nouns, eventually gaining firm affixal stata. The instantiation of mechanisms for this morphologization process indicates that many linguistic changes are not just historical changes that happened by accident but are systematic changes which are based on universal, human cognition.


 1. Introduction
 2. Evidence indicating change from lexical to grammatical status of the suffixes, -dom, -hood, -ship, and -ly
 3. Mechanisms of change: reanalysis and analogy
  3.1 Reanalysis
  3.2 Analogy
  3.3 Interaction of reanalysis and analogy
 4. Interaction of reanalysis and analogy in morphologization of English suffixes, -hood, -dom, -ship, and -ly
 5. Conclusion


  • Sang-suk Oh Harvard University


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