lrc wordmark

International Conference on Historical Linguistics

Contact-Induced Grammatical Changes in Kashubian in Light of Andersen’s “Abductive and Deductive Change” (1973)



Motoki Nomachi


Henning Andersen’s article entitled “Abductive and Deductive Change” (1973) has multiple notable contributions at various levels. On the level of general historical linguistics, he first introduced into linguistic analysis the notion of abduction advanced by a famous philosopher Ch. Pierce and by applying this notion, Andersen has convincingly shown its validity in his analysis of the enigmatic phonological changes in the Litomyšl’s “teták“ dialect of Czech. This alone was a unique contribution to Slavic diachronic dialectology. Further, though, in spite of the fact that the article has dealt with a phonological change only, Andersen’s approach has drawn significant attention as one of the possible accounts for a linguistic change in general, including (morpho-)syntactic change (cf. Harris and Campbell 1995: 384–385) and it has been indeed successfully applied in various contexts, for instance, by Timberlake (1977) but many others as well. Another important aspect of Andersen’s article is the theoretical claim of the distinction between evolutive and adaptive changes. With all this in mind, Andersen pointed out the importance of recognizing the sociolinguistic dynamics that a group of speakers of a given language was facing. Although there have been discussions about pros and cons of Andersen’s approach (cf. Deutscher 2002), it certainly helps us understand the nature of various linguistic changes particularly in small languages that have been in close contact with other languages and whose sociolinguistic dynamics may have significant impact on grammatical change. As one such case, I show that Andersen’s framework allows important light to be shed on morpho-syntactic changes in Kashubian. This language has experienced two different language contact contexts, namely, with German, until the end of World War II, and then with Polish, and these situations have resulted in the contact-induced changes of various grammatical structures. The degree of grammaticalization in them naturally varies, but it is important to note that there is often a significant discrepancy between highly grammaticalized forms and low frequency of their usage on the one hand, for instance, as with the case of the recipient passive with the auxiliary dostac ‘to get’ with PPP (Nomachi 2012). On the other hand, there are cases in which the degree of grammaticalization in forms does not correspond to its semantics as in periphrastic constructions with the auxiliaries miec ‘to have’ verb to be and bëc ‘to be’ with PPP (Nomachi 2016). In both cases, one has to pay attention to the fact that there is a wide range of acceptability of given forms and their sphere of usage, depending on the sensibilities of individual speakers of Kashubian, which have not been studied yet. In this presentation, I aim to show that these discrepancies can be most probably explained by Andersen’s abductive mode of innovation.


Andersen, Henning. 1973. Abductive and deductive change. Language 49. 765–93.

Deutscher, Guy. 2002. On the misuse of the notion of abduction in linguistics. Journal of Linguistics 38. 469–85.

Harris, Alice C, Lyle Campbell. 1995. Historical syntax in cross-linguistic perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nomachi, Motoki. 2012. The Kashubian recipient passive and its grammaticalization. In Andrii Danylenko, Serhii Vakulenko (eds.), Gedenkschrift für George Y. Shevelov zum 100. Geburtstag, 109–135. München: Verlag Otto Sagner.

Nomachi, Motoki. 2016. On the second Be periphrasis (BE-2) in Kashubian: its grammatical status and historical development, Slavia 84, No. 3. 268–83.

Timberlake, Alan. 1977. Reanalysis and actualization in syntactic change. In Charles N. Li (ed.), Mechanism of syntactic change, 141–77. Austin: University of Texas Press.

  •   Map
  • Linguistics Research Center

    University of Texas at Austin
    PCL 5.556
    Mailcode S5490
    Austin, Texas 78712