Lingua: International Review of General Linguistics vol:119 issue:11 pages:1728-1755
Reanalysis, as understood in traditional historical linguistics, lacks explanatory force as a mechanism of language change, because the assumption that reanalysis works through ambiguity is logically flawed, and because reanalysis postulates a shift from an old to a new representation without specifying the source of the new representa-tion. Therefore, two cases of syntactic reanalysis are examined to produce a more convincing picture of how reanalysis operates. One is the development of the English adjectives worth and worthwhile when used with gerund clauses. The other is the emergence of the English for…to-infinitive. On the basis of these case-studies it is shown that reanalysis can be decomposed into more basic mechanisms of change. These mechanisms involve 'category-internal change' resulting from semantic change, 'categorial incursion' through analogy, and 'automation'. Each of these underlying mechanisms obtain additional plausibility from the fact that they are firmly based in synchronic language use as understood in current usage-based models. One conse-quence is that reanalysis itself becomes to some extent epiphenomenal to the more basic mechanisms.