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The present paper aims at testing four criteria for the distinction between primary vs. secondary grammaticalization in East and mainland Southeast Asian languages. These languages are of special interest for research on grammaticalization because they show limitations in the coevolution of meaning and form and because pragmatic inference is very prominent (lack of obligatory grammatical markers, multifunctionality). If the four criteria work in these languages, this can be taken as a good indicator for their cross-linguistic, maybe universal relevance.The criteria are tested with three markers that stand for three different types of multifunctionality: (i) the Khmer verb baːn ‘come to have’ as a marker of various tense–aspect–modality functions, (ii) the Khmer verb ʔaoy ‘give’ in its functions of an adposition (coverb), causative marker, adverbial subordinator and complementizer and (iii) numeral classifiers as markers of definiteness as well as indefiniteness. As will be shown, the four criteria offer a mixed picture and even yield some contradictory results as far as the distinction of primary vs. secondary grammaticalization is concerned. This will lead to the final question of whether one has to reckon with areal differences in the properties of grammaticalization.
Journal: Language Sciences - Volume 47, Part B, January 2015, Pages 132–147