The Symposium Grammaticalization, which took place in in Mainz in 2015 (cf. Conference) as well as the compilation of the Questionnaire have been the first important steps of the MAGRAM project.

In the questionnaire it is described, how grammaticalization paths have been recorded for the Datenbank, but also how the recorded paths are measured in terms of the used eight parameters of grammaticalization.


1. Description

Each grammaticalization paths is described by its source concept and its target concept.

For the description of the source concept, always the 'primordial', that is, earliest attested or reconstructed concept and its expression, have been recorded. For the target concept, however, the most grammaticalized function (the function which is integrated the most into the grammatical system of a language).

In case of a complex construction, grammaticalization will be measured by choosing the most lexical part of the source construction as the nucleus (compare the construction marker in Himmelmann 2005).


2. Parameters

The parameters used in the MAGRAM project are based on the six parameters proposed by Lehmann (1995).

In his approach, grammaticalization is seen as the loss of autonomy of a linguistic sign. In that, he grounds his parameters on the features weight, cohesion and variability, which is then splits into one paradigmatic and syntagmatic parameter each.

fig. 1: parameters of grammaticalization according to Lehmann (1995) (modified).


In MAGRAM 'Structural Scope' has been omitted, and, as can be seen in fig. 1, paradigmatic weight has been again split in phonetic reduction (form) and semantic reduction (function).

Also, the parameters decategorization (cf. Hopper and Traugott 2003) and allomorphy have been added.


Semantic integrity Phonetic reduction Paradigmaticity Bondedness Paradigmatic variability Syntagmatic variability Decategorization Allomorphy

fig. 2: Grammaticalization parameters used in MAGRAM.


3. Evaluation

For each parameter, values between 1 and 4 have been defined, and thus, each target concept was assigned eight values. By '+' and '-' it has been noted for each parameter, whether the value has changed from source to target or not.

An Example for the value definitions is given below, for the parameter phonetic reduction:


Parameter 2: Phonetic Reduction

1        The linguistic sign consists of 2 or more syllables.

2        The linguistic sign is (i) a monosyllabic word or (ii) a full syllable with no word status.

3        The linguistic sign is a subsyllabic morpheme.

4        The linguistic sign is (reduced to) a suprasegmental feature or is lost.



4. Datenbasis

The data of the Mainz Grammaticalization project is based on the contributions of 29 experts in the respective languages, among them Christian Lehmann as one of the founding fathers of grammaticalization research. The languages and authors, who contributed the data for the databank, were the following:

Beja (Cushitic, Afroasiatic): Martine Vanhove

Chinese (Sinitic, Sino-Tibetan): Linlin Sun and Walter Bisang

Creoles and Pidgins: Susanne Michaelis and Martin Haspelmath

Emai (Edoid, Niger-Congo): Ronald P. Schaefer and Francis O. Egbokhare

Germanic (Indo-European): Luise Kempf and Damaris Nübling

Hindi/Urdu (Indo-Aryan, Indo-European): Annie Montaut

Hoocak (Core Siouan): Johannes Helmbrecht

Iranian (Indo-European): Agnes Korn

Iroquoian: Marianne Mithun

Japhug (Rgyalrong, Sino-Tibetan): Guillaume Jacques

Korean: Seongha Rhee

Lezgic (Northeast Caucasian): Timur Maisak

Manding (Mande, Niger-Congo): Denis Creissels

Mountain Ok (Papua New Guinea): Sebastian Fedden

Nyulnyulan (Non-Pamanyungan, Australian): William B. McGregor

Quechua and Aymara: Willem F. H. Adelaar

Romance (Indo-European): Michela Cennamo

Slavic (Indo-European): Björn Wiemer

Sulawesi (Western Malayo-Polynesian, Austronesian): Nikolaus P. Himmelmann

Tswana (Bantu, Niger-Congo): Denis Creissels

Tungusic (Manchu-Tungusic, Transeurasian): Andrej Malchukov

Uralic: Juha Janhunen

Uto-Aztecan: Zarina Estrada-Fernández

Yeniseian: Edward Vajda

Yucatec (Mayan): Christian Lehmann