The diachronic evolution of Italian mica: Discourse strategies and language change

Thaler, Verena

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Document Type: Article
Year of publication: 2018
The title of a journal, publication series: Italian Journal of Linguistics = Rivista di Linguistica
Volume: 30
Issue number: 1
Page range: 3-40
Place of publication: Pisa
Publishing house: Pacini
ISSN: 1120-2726
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Humanities > Romanische Sprach- u. Medienwissenschaft I (Eckkrammer)
Subject: 450 Italian, Romanian, Rhaeto-Romanic
Individual keywords (German): Italienisch , Sprachwandel , Modalpartikel
Keywords (English): pragmatic particle , modal particle , mica , language change , subjectification , grammaticalization , Italian
Abstract: The paper studies the diachronic development of the Italian particle mica from a usage-based perspective. Mica originates in a free noun denoting a small quantity (Latin mica(m) ‘crumb’), developed into a negation particle and, as claimed in this paper, into a pragmatic particle. The aim of the paper is twofold. First, it deals with the question in which contexts the shift from one use to another may have occurred and which discursive elements may have motivated the change. The analysis is based on the hypothesis that the change is triggered by rhetorical strategies of the speaker which sediment into new meaning components. The paper tries to provide evidence for this hypothesis with reference to historical data as well as an analysis of the discourse functions of mica in present-day Italian. The second aim of the paper is to show that, contrary to what has been claimed in previous studies, the use of mica has developed in a way that is quite different from the development described in a negation cycle. Its evolution appears to go beyond the process of grammaticalization as a negation marker. The paper argues that mica did not only turn from a lexical into a grammatical item, but – more interestingly – that the negation particle further developed into a pragmatic particle. The latter is characterized by particular discourse functions and can be more specifically described as modal particle.

Dieser Eintrag ist Teil der Universitätsbibliographie.

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