Linguistics and Literature Studies Vol. 4(1), pp. 27 - 36
DOI: 10.13189/lls.2016.040105
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Contexts for Micro-change: The Case of German Zeitnah, Postwendend and Voll

Anneliese Kuhle *
Institute for English Language and Literature, Free University Berlin, Germany


In the current debate on language change, the focus on micro-changes has become more prominent [12, p. 221]. One arguable advantage of focusing on instances of change which involve only a relatively small number of structural and/or functional innovations is that the specific circumstances which instigate such change are easier to reconstruct. Moreover, these may be more closely identifiable with the actual usage events speakers and hearers engage in every day. Specifically, this paper deals with three instances of micro-change in Present-day German: the innovation from nahe to zeit+nahe, the development of postwendend as an emphatic temporal modifier, and the emergence of Austrian German voll in discourse-pragmatic function. Each instance is analyzed from a usage-based perspective though in each case different motivating factors for change come into focus. Most importantly for the argument, these factors are invariably based on the considerations of context, not innate cognitive biases. From the cognitive point of view, these findings are taken in support of the claim that linguistic innovations are based on only general cognitive abilities also characteristic of other intentional behaviors such as the handling and innovation of tools.

Language Change, Emergent Grammar, Context, Local Pragmatic Inferences, Language User, Intentionality

Cite This Paper in IEEE or APA Citation Styles
(a). IEEE Format:
[1] Anneliese Kuhle , "Contexts for Micro-change: The Case of German Zeitnah, Postwendend and Voll," Linguistics and Literature Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 27 - 36, 2016. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2016.040105.

(b). APA Format:
Anneliese Kuhle (2016). Contexts for Micro-change: The Case of German Zeitnah, Postwendend and Voll. Linguistics and Literature Studies, 4(1), 27 - 36. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2016.040105.