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The rise and fall of Mojeño diminutives through the centuries

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Abstract

This paper investigates the diachrony of diminutives in Mojeño across four centuries. First, it shows that the three Mojeño diminutives have two lexical sources: ‘child’ and ‘seed’. This constitutes a counterexample to Jurafsky’s (1996) theory concerning the universal source of diminutives. Second, the paper investigates the grammaticalization process of diminutives and their further distributional and functional changes. It shows that the extension of the distribution onto verbs and grammatical parts of speech correlates with the gain of emotional connotations. It describes the evolution of emotional connotations of the diminutives and the pragmaticalization of their interactional functions until the eventual shift to purely expressive morphemes when diminutives lose their core meaning of ‘smallness’. Third, since each of the three language varieties has one ‘true’ diminutive only, two successive cycles of diminutive renewal are hypothesized, whereby an old diminutive is replaced by a new one.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 19, 2018

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