[en] Aspect ; English ; Complex prepositions ; Grammaticalization
[en] This article presents a case study of a set of constructions involving the related way-nouns way, road, track and route, exemplified by (i) on the road to Morocco, (ii) (be) on way to an outstanding English summer with county side Surrey, (iii) (be) on the way to becoming Britain’s No 1 sprinter / on her way to see her boyfriend. These distinct constructions are the synchronically co-existing layers of processes of semantic generalization and grammaticalization, the most important stages of which can be parsed as follows: (i) preposition + complement (way-noun head + of + noun2/postmodifier); (ii) aspectual marker incorporating complex preposition with way-noun + nominal complement; (iii) aspectual marker incorporating complex preposition with way-noun + verbal complement. We will show that the decategorialization approach that has typically been applied to emergent complex prepositions, which are viewed as progressively losing their nominal features such as determiners, makes wrong predictions about degrees of grammaticalization in this case. For this reason, and also to arrive at a more elucidating analysis of the reanalysed layers, we will investigate in what ways their lexicogrammatical features express their constituent functions. We also argue that the emergent layer of aspectual marker + verbal predicate adds complex and fine-grained meanings to the paradigm of English aspectual markers (cf. Diewald 2010), thus enriching the aspectual system. Finally, we show on the basis of the qualitative and quantitative findings of our usage-based study that the variants of the ‘on the way’ expressions display an interesting case of specialization in relation to the four way-nouns.
Research Foundation Flanders ; University of Leuven