This paper aims to identify and account for the grammatical constructions expressing indefiniteness in Old Persian. Based on the extant data from this stage, the use of the ‘indefinite article’ aiv̯ a in marking noun phrases (exclusively) denoting human beings is elaborated on. In the corpus, we find both this usage of aiv̯ a and its original function as numeral ‘one’. Here, it is argued that the former usage emerged as the result of a specific construction that the latter found itself in: ‘There is only one X, the X represents a human being’. The metonymic relations triggered reanalysis of aiv̯ a to an ‘indefinite article’ which in turn paved the way for its metaphoric extension. To depict this path of development, a Construction Grammar model is adopted. This study is based on the corpus of Old Persian gathered by Schmitt (2009). Our investigation illustrates that the token frequency of the aforementioned indefinite article in the total NPs (4130) amounts to 0.5%. This percentage is not very high; however, it implies that it is a newly formed grammatical construction in the oldest extant texts of Persian language. The indefinite article emergence in this stage and lack of a definite marker make Persian another counter example to the languages of the world, since the emergence of the latter in grammar is superior to the former.

The emergence of the indefinite article in Old Persian: A Construction Grammar account

Elisabetta Ragagnin
;
2022-01-01

Abstract

This paper aims to identify and account for the grammatical constructions expressing indefiniteness in Old Persian. Based on the extant data from this stage, the use of the ‘indefinite article’ aiv̯ a in marking noun phrases (exclusively) denoting human beings is elaborated on. In the corpus, we find both this usage of aiv̯ a and its original function as numeral ‘one’. Here, it is argued that the former usage emerged as the result of a specific construction that the latter found itself in: ‘There is only one X, the X represents a human being’. The metonymic relations triggered reanalysis of aiv̯ a to an ‘indefinite article’ which in turn paved the way for its metaphoric extension. To depict this path of development, a Construction Grammar model is adopted. This study is based on the corpus of Old Persian gathered by Schmitt (2009). Our investigation illustrates that the token frequency of the aforementioned indefinite article in the total NPs (4130) amounts to 0.5%. This percentage is not very high; however, it implies that it is a newly formed grammatical construction in the oldest extant texts of Persian language. The indefinite article emergence in this stage and lack of a definite marker make Persian another counter example to the languages of the world, since the emergence of the latter in grammar is superior to the former.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5011461
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