We use the variationist method to elucidate the expression of future time in English, examining multiple grammaticalization in the same domain (will and going to). Usage patterns show that the choice of form is not determined by invariant semantic readings such as proximity, certainty, willingness, or intention. Rather, particular instances of each general construction occupy lexical, syntactic, and pragmatic niches. While putative differences in meaning are largely neutralized in discourse, grammaticalization paths are reflected in particular constructions of different degrees of lexical specificity, which bear different nuances of meaning or tenacious patterns of distribution inherited from once-meaningful associations. We conclude that collocations contribute to the shape of grammatical variation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language