The role of pragmatics in cyclic language change: Introduction

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In Section 1 of my introduction to this Special Issue, I define the concept of semantic–pragmatic cycles, a relatively recently discovered phenomenon, drawing a distinction between two sub-types: onomasiological and semasiological cycles. Semantic–pragmatic cycles are contrasted with the more widely known (morpho-)syntactic cycles such as the Negative Cycle (or Jespersen Cycle), and I discuss possible connections between these two types of cycles. Finally, I raise some questions for further research. In Section 2 , I outline the empirical and/or theoretical contribution of each of the six papers that follow – considering, in particular, how they contribute to elucidating the role of pragmatics in cyclic change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-181
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Historical Pragmatics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020


  • Cyclicity
  • Grammaticalization
  • Language change
  • Onomasiology
  • Pragmaticalization
  • Semasiology


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