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On morphosyntactic change in Bulgarian

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The existence of a connection between the loss of case inflection and the emergence of overt definiteness in Bulgarian can be supported with arguments of various weight. Among them are: (i) The comparison with parallel developments in Germanic and Romance, (ii) the ability of articles to perpetuate case distinctions after case marking on nouns and adjectives has been obliterated, (iii) their capacity to take over functions formerly performed by case, (iv) the participation of both processes in the analyticity-syntheticity cycle, (v) their involvement in the pendulum between hypo- and hyper-determination, and (vi) the parallel sequence of their implementation among noun classes defined by animacy, gender and number. I argue that the similarities of implementation between the two diachronic processes should be explained in terms of three interrelated variables: markedness, perceptual salience and frequency. The conclusions reached fit in with the predictions of the Usage-Based Model of Change espoused by Bybee and Phillips and those of Andersen’s Markedness Theory of Linguistic Change and show the potential of these models for the analysis of the core issues of the Balkan Sprachbund.
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Keywords: Bulgarian; aspect; case; definiteness; figure-ground organization; frequency; markedness; word order

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-11-10

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  • International Journal for Historical Linguistics
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