VELEIA, 33, 103112, 2016 ISSN 0213 2095
GRAMMATICALIZATION IN BOPP
GRAMATICALIZACIÓN EN BOPP
University of Erfurt
Abstract: In many diachronic analyses, Franz Bopp underpinned what became known as
agglutination theory. In this, he took up earlier and contemporary thinking about linguistic
evolution and contributed to the development of modern grammaticalization theory.
Keywords: Franz Bopp, grammaticalization, agglutination theory, language evolution.
Resumen: En muchos análisis diacrónicos, Franz Bopp apuntaló lo que llegó a conocerse
como teoría de la aglutinación. En ella, recogió la opinión anterior y la contemporánea sobre
evolución lingüística y contribuyó al desarrollo de la moderna teoría de la gramaticalización.
Palabras clave: Franz Bopp, gramaticalización, teoría de la aglutinación, evolución
Recibido: 14-10-2015 Informado: 10-3-2016 Definitivo: 25-5-2016
The aim of the present contribution is to extract, from the work published by Franz Bopp, his
contribution to research on grammaticalization. We will briefly sketch the relevant situation in
linguistic research when Bopp began publishing, adduce some quotations from his work in order
to illustrate his approach, try to generalize from them and throw a brief glance at the impact this
work made on more recent linguistics.
The title of this contribution may lead to erroneous expectations. Bopp’s work antedates by a
century modern linguistic work on grammaticalization. The term was unknown to him. However,
the idea of grammaticalization is present in his work, as well as in the work of some of his contem-
poraries, as will be shown in section 31.
In setting the stage for the kind of linguistics done by Bopp, the following conditions must be
recalled: Franz Bopp embarked on systematic linguistic studies from 1809 on. At that time, ro-
1 I am grateful to two anonymous reviewers for sev-
eral useful hints.
104 CHRISTIAN LEHMANN
VELEIA, 33, 2016
manticism fostered curiosity about the origin of language and culture and humanism propagated
education based on the standards and the texts of classical antiquity. The prevalent approach in
the humanities was the historical approach. However, although comparative linguistic work had
been done on several languages (s. Bernabé 1983), available grammars of Indo-European languages
were essentially normative grammars. Descriptive linguistics was not established, a large number of
grammars of exotic languages discovered in the colonies notwithstanding. Consequently, most of
the variation existing in every language escaped researchers of the time. Moreover, the fervent in-
terest in the reconstruction of origins could not be based on historical grammars, which were prac-
tically unavailable. One of the very first was Jacob Grimm’s Deutsche Grammatik, which started
getting published in 1819 and whose second, much more influential edition of 1822 was reviewed
by Bopp in 1827. The only contemporary work of relevance for linguistic theory was done by
W ilhelm von Humboldt; but little of it was yet available at that time2. The big successes of the
natural sciences, thus, of empirical scientific work, of positivism and evolution theory were yet to
come. However, the first scientific discoveries and their presentation in the form of “laws” had al-
ready started making their impression on the public, so any academic discipline wanting to get a
foot in the university system was well advised to follow that model.
Although syntax had existed at least since Apollonios Dyskolos (2nd cent. AD), it remained a
stepchild in linguistic work until, roughly, the rise of the Neogrammarians and then, after a period
of dormancy, again with the rise of generative grammar. This means that there was little syntax
in linguistics at Bopp’s time. One of the first to vigorously oppose this limitation of grammatical
analysis was Wilhelm von Humboldt (1836, 418f):
“Gerade das Höchste und Feinste läßt sich an jenen getrennten Elementen nicht erkennen und
kann nur ... in der verbundenen Rede wahrgenommen oder geahndet werden. Nur sie muß man
sich überhaupt in allen Untersuchungen, welche in die lebendige Wesenheit der Sprache eindrin-
gen sollen, immer als das Wahre und Erste denken. Das Zerschlagen in Wörter und Regeln ist nur
ein totes Machwerk wissenschaftlicher Zergliederung3”.
Thus, when Bopp embarked on his enterprise, linguistic analysis was mostly confined to pho-
nological and morphological analysis.
There was no linguistics of the spoken variety of a language. One quite superficial reason for
this state of affairs was, of course, the lack of technical equipment to conduct such research on an
empirical basis. However, even if this had been available, one may doubt that linguists at Bopp’s
time would have used it. Of course, the languages of the colonies had been taken notice of both in
the form of missionary grammars and in the form of a couple of collections of comparative sam-
ples. However, linguistics had been so firmly grounded in a 2000-year old philological and logi-
cal tradition that hardly anybody in Europe came up with the idea of a scientific investigation of a
spoken language. Linguistics was much less an empirical science than today. Because of its strong
bond with philology, the object of study were written texts. It took researchers some time to clarify
2 Since both were members of the Royal Academy
of Berlin, Bopp was familiar with Humboldt 1822,
while Humboldt 1827 was less accessible.
3 “It is precisely the highest and finest which is not
recognizable in those separated elements and can only
… be perceived or guessed in connected speech. It is
principally only this latter which must be regarded as
the true and first thing in all investigations which are
meant to penetrate into the living essence of language.
The breaking up into words and rules is only a dead
botch of scientific dissection”.
GRAMMATICALIZATION IN BOPP 105
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the difference between letters and sounds. In 1833, Bopp still speaks of letters, even of a “tönender
Buchstabe” (sounding letter, p. 97), instead of sounds. At that time, the conception of phonolog-
ical change did not differ much from its conception in antiquity, where phonological processes
were substitutions of letters.
Turning closer to the subject of the present chapter, the approach to linguistic change at Bopp’s
time was different from today’s. Starting with Bopp, linguists have wanted to find out about gen-
eral laws of historical change of languages. We consider diachronic laws both as scientifically in-
teresting in their own right, since they make us understand how language works, and as a meth-
odological presupposition for any historical-comparative work which aims at establishing language
families and proto-languages. However, as already indicated, historical grammars were all but inex-
istent at Bopp’s time. Consequently, the comparative linguist had to do the historical groundwork
for himself and the comparison at the same time. General principles of linguistic change were not
available, but were beginning to emerge from such work.
As is well known, the contrast between synchronic and diachronic linguistics was first formu-
lated, even though without these terms, in Gabelentz 1891, 61, to be taken up and established in
structural linguistics in Saussure 1916. The contrast was essentially unthinkable at Bopp’s time.
Even much later, Hermann Paul (1880, 20) wrote his famous verdict that there is no scientific
study of language but its historical study. In structural linguistics, both the synchronic and the dia-
chronic study of language involve an abstraction from historically observable variation, its systema-
tization and its reduction to general principles. General diachronic linguistics in this sense figured
on the Neogrammarians’ program, and they did contribute much to it, but were not actually able
to establish it on a solid methodological basis, since they essentially confined their object area to one
language family. General diachronic linguistics involves typological comparison. This kind of work
had started with Schlegel 1808 and was taken a step further by Humboldt, especially in his major
work of 1836. As is well known, Bopp did try to apply his approach outside the Indo-European
family. However, lacking the methodological foundation just mentioned, he could not succeed.
3. G B
The histories of the concept and of the term ‘grammaticalization’ differ a lot. The word Gram-
matikalisierung or any of its cognates are not found in Bopp’s work. The term was coined by An-
toine Meillet in his article of 1912 and has since gotten established in linguistics, with some mor-
phological variation. The concept of grammaticalization, in modern understanding (s. Narrog &
Heine [eds.] 2011 for a contemporary survey), comprises a certain kind of —synchronic or dia-
chronic— grammatical variation by which a linguistic sign (of any complexity) becomes more
grammatical. Becoming more grammatical means losing in autonomy with respect to use by speak-
ers. With respect to the language system, becoming more grammatical means getting increasingly
subjected to the rules of grammar of a particular language. This brings with it reduction in seman-
tic and phonological complexity, in syntagmatic variability and in morphological status. Needless
to say, the modern explication of the concept is not to be found in early linguistic work. Neverthe-
less, the idea that in linguistic change, signs lose their autonomy, becoming parts of host signs and
getting reduced in their phonological form, dates back at least to work by Étienne Bonnot de Con-
dillac. In his Essai sur l’origine des connoissances humaines (1746), vol. 2, p. 125f, he sketches a the-
ory of the origin of grammar as follows: Men first put, in discourse, words representing the verb,
time, mode, person and number of agent, in this order.
106 CHRISTIAN LEHMANN
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“Les sons qui rendoient la signification du verbe déterminée, lui étant toujours ajoutés, ne fi-
rent bientôt avec lui qu’un seul mot, qui se terminoit différemment selon ses différentes accep-
tions. Alors le verbe fut regardé comme un nom, qui, quoiqu’indéfini dans son origine, étoit, par
la variation de ses temps & de ses modes, devenu propre à exprimer d’une manière déterminée
l’état d’action & de passion de chaque chose. C’est de la sorte que les hommes parvinrent insensi-
blement à imaginer les conjugaisons4”.
This one source of grammaticalization theory may suffice here. It is particularly important in
the present context as we may assume that Bopp’s teachers in Paris, Antoine-Léonard de Chézy
and Silvestre de Sacy, were familiar with such ideas and passed them on. Another author preced-
ing Bopp and entertaining ideas of grammaticalization was John Horne Tooke. Among Bopp’s
contemporaries, August Wilhelm Schlegel and Wilhelm von Humboldt must be singled out. They
formed their variants of grammaticalization theory simultaneously and in contact with Bopp and
published them in Schlegel 1818 and Humboldt 18225, thus, after Bopp’s Conjugationssystem, but
before his Vergleichende Grammatik. Bopp was familiar with their work. Here is the key passage
from Schlegel 1818, 28:
“C’est une invention en quelque façon négative, que celle qui a produit les grammaires analy-
tiques, et la méthode uniformément suivie à cet égard peut se réduire à un seul principe. On dé-
pouille certains mots de leur énergie significative, on ne leur laisse qu’une valeur nominale, pour
leur donner un cours plus général et les faire entrer dans la partie élémentaire de la langue. Ces
mots deviennent une espèce de papier-monnaie destiné à faciliter la circulation6”.
In the sequel, Schlegel applies this conception chiefly —though not exclusively— to the re-
newal of Latin morphological categories in the Romance languages.
Bopp makes a distinction between the original state of affairs in Indo-European grammar,
which is represented in Sanskrit, and the changed situation displayed by all of the other Indo-Eu-
ropean languages. Most of the processes of grammaticalization which he diagnoses therefore in-
volve a Sanskrit form as the source and a form of another Indo-European language as the product
of the process. The “simple language organism” of Sanskrit is gradually destroyed and replaced by
“mechanical compositions, from which, when their elements were no longer recognized, an ap-
pearance of a new organism evolved” (Bopp 1816, 11). However, he partly frees himself from the
4 “Given that the sounds which made the meaning
of the verb determined [that is, the words coming af-
ter the verb] were always added to it, they soon started
to form one word with it, which ended differently ac-
cording to its various senses. So the verb was regarded
as a noun which, although indefinite in its origin, had
become apt to express, by the variation of its tenses and
moods, the state of action and passion of everything in
a determined way. In this way, man arrived impercepti-
bly at inventing conjugation”.
5 Relevant excerpts are quoted in Lehmann 2015,
6 The invention which produced analytic grammars
is somehow a negative one, and the method uniformly
applied in this respect may be reduced to a single prin-
ciple. One strips certain words of their meaningful en-
ergy, leaving them only a nominal [~ structural] value,
in order to grant them a more general circulation and
to introduce them into the elementary part of language.
These words become a sort of paper money, meant to
GRAMMATICALIZATION IN BOPP 107
VELEIA, 33, 2016
unconditional veneration as “original” of anything found in Sanskrit by also applying the same
analysis to certain inflectional categories of this language which strike him as analyzable. Thus,
some inflected forms of Sanskrit are coded by “modifications of the root”, but others by “melting
the verbum abstractum [s. below] with the stem syllable [i.e. the root] into one word” (1816, 8).
The younger Indo-European languages take this technique up and apply it in the renewal of orig-
inal inflection categories. The basic observation on which this analysis proceeds is the following
“Neue Worte können in abgeleiteten Sprachen entstehen durch neue Zusammensetzungen von
bedeutenden Sylben, nach dem /96/ Prinzip der Ursprache, und es entstehen neue grammatische
Formen, wenn die Nebenbestimmungen der Bedeutung, die in der Ursprache durch Umbiegung
der Stammsilbe selbst ausgedrückt wurden, an einem angehängten Worte angezeigt werden, des-
sen Bestandtheile, wenn die Verbindung nicht mehr erkannt wird, für Endbiegungen der Stamm-
sylbe angesehen werden. — Ein Beyspiel, wo im Lateinischen im praes. ein verbum abstract. mit
einer attributiven Wurzel verbunden wird, haben wir an possum — pot-sum7”.
As is clear from this passage and the subsequent text, Bopp does not consider the possibility
that new grammatical categories might evolve by this type of grammatical change. Instead, he lim-
its himself to the renewal of what A. W. Schlegel called synthetic morphology by analytic mor-
phology, which latter, however, emerges as renewed synthetic morphology in the ancient Indo-Eu-
Bopp invokes this kind of analysis for several grammatical categories, but above all for verbal
desinences. In 1816, 9, he considers essentially two variants of the agglutination process: the weld-
ing of the verb root with a following auxiliary and the formation of tempora derivativa (roughly,
secondary tenses) on the basis of participles. The former process is already illustrated in the above
quotation: Lat. possum ‘I can’ derives from *pot(is) sum ‘I am able’. According to Bopp, there is
only one genuine verb, the verb ‘be’. All the other verbs are combinations of this verb with at-
tributes, thus “attributive verbs” (1816, 95). This thesis stems from general grammar and goes
back to Aristotle (Metaph. 4, 7, 6), who claims that there is no difference between ánthrōpos
badízei ‘the man walks’ and ánthrōpos badízōn estí ‘the man is walking’. This is why the copula was
called verbum substantivum (e.g. by Franciscus Sanctius) or verbum abstractum in general grammar
and subsequently by Bopp.
Faithful to this doctrine, whenever a conjugation ending contains the consonant s, Bopp is
tempted to diagnose agglutination of some form of the Sanskrit root as- ‘be’ to the verb stem.
Likewise, when a conjugation ending contains b or some other labial consonant, this is traced back
to Sanskrit bhū-, also ‘be’. This is the analysis Bopp (1816, 29f) bestows, among many others, to
the Sanskrit future II ending in -sjā, which he reconstructs as the “future of the root As, which no
longer occurs in isolated form”. On p. 33, he presents analogous arguments for the Sanskrit con-
ditional. The same goes for the Greek aorist in -s-, the Sanskrit second past (o.c. 65f) and the
Greek future in -s- (p. 66). Bhū- is found (p. 96) in the Latin imperfect suffix -ba- and the future
7 “New words may evolve in derived languages by
new compositions of meaningful syllables, following
the principle of the proto-language; and new gram-
matical forms evolve when the secondary specifica-
tions of a meaning, which in the proto-language were
expressed by inflection of the stem syllable itself, are
indicated in an appended word, whose components
are regarded as desinences of the stem syllable once
the combination is no longer recognized. — In pos-
sum — pot-sum, we have an example where in present
tense, a verbum abstractum is combined with an at-
108 CHRISTIAN LEHMANN
VELEIA, 33, 2016
suffix -bi-. However, Bopp does not explain how the same formative can fulfill so different func-
tions, nor what the internal grammatical structure of the assumed periphrastic formation is. When
he sees no way of deriving a desinence from the verb ‘be’, he often opts for “eine zufällige Ein-
schaltung” (a fortuitous intercalation) (p. 119).
However, Bopp is open to auxiliaries of other lexical sources. One of his hypotheses that per-
sist to our day is his analysis (1816, 151-157) of the Gothic past tense of the kind sokidedun ‘they
searched’: it is composed of the root with the past of the auxiliary ‘do’.
A variant of the agglutination of an auxiliary is the derivation of personal conjugation endings
by the agglutination of pronouns. Bopp compares (1816, 147) Sanskrit mām ‘me’ and tam ‘him’
with bhavami ‘I am’ and bhavati ‘he is’ and concludes:
“Es scheint mir keinem Zweifel mehr unterworfen zu seyn, dass die Buchstaben, die ich in die-
sem Versuche Kennzeichen der Personen zu nennen pflegte, wirkliche Pronomina seyen8”.
Other examples of pronominal elements which Bopp analyzes as grammaticalized include the
Ancient Greek definite article, derived from a demonstrative pronoun (1816, 70f). The comple-
mentizer ‘that’ in the Indo-European languages derives from a neuter demonstrative or relative
pronoun in the accusative or some other dependent case. And here (1816, 79f) there is one of the,
alas, few occasions where Bopp does provide the syntactic conditions for his morphological analy-
sis9: the complementizer shows the case required by the governing verbum dicendi/sentiendi etc.,
so the finite complement clause itself does not need to show it. Again (p. 81-84), several subor-
dinative conjunctions are analyzed as case forms of pronouns which determine or anticipate cat-
aphorically the following verbal construction. Likewise (p. 127), the Gothic relative pronoun
evolves from the demonstrative.
The nominative singular suffix -s of certain Sanskrit declensions is traced back to the pronoun
stem sa- ‘he’ (1833, 157). Another analysis in the nominal sphere —and this one, too, survives
to this day— concerns the definite adjective known from Old Church Slavonic and Lithuanian.
Bopp (1833, 366f) reconstructs it as the combination of a declined adjective with a declined pro-
noun. His observation on the modern descendant of this adjectival form in contemporary German
is worth quoting:
“In dem Begreifen der definiten Adjectiv-Declination aber war die grammatische Wissenschaft,
die sich in vielen anderen Punkten schon über das empirische Sprachgefühl erhoben hatte, noch
hinter demselben zurückgeblieben, und wir fühlten in Formen wie guter, gutem, gute mehr als wir
erkannten, nämlich ein Pronomen, welches noch geistig wirkt, wo es nicht mehr leiblich vorhan-
By this, Bopp means the following: Speakers of German would never combine a form like guter
—successor to the reconstructed definite adjective form— with the definite article, feeling that
8 “It no longer seems to me subject to doubt that
those letters which I used to call person marks in the
present essay are real pronouns”.
9 The bulk of his syntactic analyses is found in the
sections on non-finite verb forms, e.g. the Ancient
Greek infinitive (1816, 70-77). Their purpose is to
demonstrate the origin of the infinitive in a cased noun.
10 “Concerning the understanding of the definite
adjective declension, grammatical science, although
meanwhile in many respects advanced beyond empiri-
cal linguistic intuition, had still fallen short of the latter;
and in forms like guter, gutem, gute, we felt more than
we recognized, viz. a pronoun which keeps acting men-
tally where it is no longer present physically”.
GRAMMATICALIZATION IN BOPP 109
VELEIA, 33, 2016
guter already contains a pronominal form – something that “grammatical science” had to wait for
Bopp to discover. The constraint on the combination of this adjective form is the kind of phe-
nomenon known as persistence (Hopper 1991) in today’s grammaticalization theory.
Another grammatical domain where grammaticalization phenomena are recognized is occupied
by particles, conjunctions and prepositions, which Bopp (1833, Vorrede zu Teil I: XVII) intends
to derive from pronominal formations. This regards forms like English thus and therefore, which
obviously incorporate demonstrative forms.
As we have seen, Bopp applied a set of ideas to the diachronic analysis of forms of Indo-Euro-
pean languages and to the reconstruction of proto-forms, but did not propose them in the form of
a theory. A pupil of Schlegel’s, Christian Lassen, dubbed Bopp’s approach Agglutinationstheorie, in
an article (1830) which was rather critical of Bopp’s work and where the term Agglutinationstheorie
was meant in the same contemptuous sense as the term impressionist was first meant when applied
to Claude Monet and his group. Nevertheless, in the further course of the 19th century, this was
the term by which the theory became known and established. Here is how Bopp (1827 , 1)
characterizes his theory:
“Die Sprachen sind nämlich als organische Naturkörper anzusehen, die nach bestimmten Ge-
setzen sich bilden, ein inneres Lebensprinzip in sich tragend sich entwickeln und nach und nach
absterben, indem sie, sich selber nicht mehr begreifend, die ursprünglich bedeutsamen, aber nach
und nach zu einer mehr äußerlichen Masse gewordenen Glieder oder Formen ablegen oder ver-
stümmeln oder mißbrauchen, d. h. zu Zwecken verwenden, wozu sie ihrem Ursprunge nach nicht
There is much to be criticized in this partly very weird formulation. However, it is clear that
Bopp envisages a gradual loss in autonomy of erstwhile meaningful linguistic units, which is still
a valid concept in today’s grammaticalization theory. Especially noteworthy is his observation that
grammaticalized elements are used for functions which they were not meant to fulfill at their ori-
gin. This foreshadows modern theories of the expansion of grammaticalized elements, with accom-
panying loss of original motivation and passage into arbitrariness. From the above thesis, Bopp
(1833, 111) derives a research program:
“Erkennen wir [hortative!] also in den Flexionen des Sanskritischen Sprachstamms keine inne-
ren Umbiegungen der Wurzel, sondern für sich bedeutsame Elemente, deren Ursprung nachzu-
weisen die Aufgabe der wissenschaftlichen Grammatik ist12”.
11 “For languages have to be regarded as organic
natural bodies, which form according to certain laws,
evolve bearing in themselves an inner life principle and
gradually fade away. The way this happens is the fol-
lowing: No longer understanding themselves, languages
dispose of members or forms which originally were
meaningful, but little by little have become a rather su-
perficial mass; they give them up, mutilate them or mis-
use them, i.e. they use them to purposes for which they
were not apt by their origin”.
12 “Let us then recognize in the inflections of the
Sanscritic language phylum not inner modifications of
the root, but elements which are meaningful in them-
selves and the demonstration of whose origin is the task
of scientific grammar”.
110 CHRISTIAN LEHMANN
VELEIA, 33, 2016
As already mentioned, the recent success of the sciences loomed large over incipient Indo-Eu-
ropean linguistics. On this background, the frequent dropping of the word Gesetz (law) in 182713
and then in 1833 becomes understandable. In this spirit, Bopp (1827, 251 = 1836, 3) assigns the
following task to grammar:
“Eine Grammatik in höherem, wissenschaftlichem Sinne soll eine Geschichte und Naturbe-
schreibung der Sprache sein; sie soll .. . naturhistorisch die Gesetze verfolgen, nach welchen ihre
Entwicklung ... vor sich gegangen14”.
Likewise, in the preface to part II of the Vergleichende Grammatik (p. IVf), he requires that the
linguist recognize conditioning of linguistic variation by “general laws” and claims to have found
one himself. It should be noted, in all fairness, that none of Bopp’s explanatory hypotheses would
receive the status of a general law by the standards of science. It remains the task of modern gram-
maticalization theory to set up its bases in the form of laws.
The above sections prove that there is much grammaticalization in Bopp avant la lettre. As al-
ready mentioned, the same ideas were pursued simultaneously with Bopp by August W. S chlegel
and Wilhelm von Humboldt. Humboldt’s theory of linguistic evolution incorporates —even
though in a much more general and explicit theoretical form— many of Bopp’s ideas. In his aca-
demic lecture on the origins of grammatical forms, Humboldt (1822, 54f) proposes that “gram-
matische Bezeichnung” (the signifying of grammatical categories, as opposed to objects) evolves
through the following four stages:
I. “grammatische Bezeichnung durch Redensarten, Phrasen, Sätze”: grammatical categories
are completely hidden in the lexemes and in the semantosyntactic configurations;
II. “grammatische Bezeichnung durch feste Wortstellungen und zwischen Sach- und Formbe-
deutung schwankende Wörter”;
III. “grammatische Bezeichnung durch Analoga von Formen”: here the “vacillating words”
have been agglutinated as affixes to the main words. The resulting complexes are not
“forms”, unitary wholes, but only “aggregates”, and therefore mere “analogs to forms”;
IV. “grammatische Bezeichnung durch wahre Formen, durch Beugung und rein grammatische
These stages are connected with each other “durch verloren gehende Bedeutung der Elemente
und Abschleifung der Laute in langem Gebrauch.”16 These two correlative processes are known
in modern grammaticalization theory as bleaching and erosion. The passage quoted sets the stage
13 It does not occur in Bopp 1816. The only pas-
sage that comes close to it is on p. 126, where Bopp at-
tributes to the Gothic language “obedience with severe
regularity” of some linguistic analogy.
14 “A grammar in a higher, scientific sense is to be
a history and natural description of the language; it is
... to pursue in the way of natural history the laws by
which its evolution ... has taken place”.
15 “I. grammatical signification by locutions,
phrases, sentences; II. grammatical signification by fixed
word order and words vacillating between material and
formal meaning; III. grammatical signification by ana-
logues of forms; IV. grammatical signification by true
forms, by inflection and purely grammatical words”.
16 “By the loss of meaning of the elements and abra-
sion of sounds in long use”.
GRAMMATICALIZATION IN BOPP 111
VELEIA, 33, 2016
for evolutive typology. It was taken up, in the nineteenth century, by Georg von der Gabelentz
(1891), among others.
Agglutination theory got the status of a theory of grammatical change. It became the main-
stream theory of the evolution of inflection in the 19th century, defended by August Schleicher,
who followed Humboldt in making agglutination theory the center of his evolutive typology. Sev-
eral of the neogrammarians, among them Brugmann, were favorably inclined to the theory. Del-
brück 1880 devotes an entire chapter to agglutination theory, approving of it with some reserva-
In conclusion, Bopp’s contribution to grammaticalization studies may be appreciated as fol-
lows: He found the relevant ideas in his intellectual environment. He neither invented grammati-
calization theory nor did he formulate it in a coherent and systematic way. What he did was apply
it in innumerable historical and reconstructed cases. A sizable subset of these are perfectly sound
hypotheses of the proper diachronic morphological analysis of word forms, which remain uncon-
tested to this day and have even become common heritage in Indo-European linguistics. It was the
impact of the sheer quantity of Bopp’s plausible and fruitful analyses that promoted grammaticali-
zation theory, in the form of agglutination theory, in 19th century linguistics and helped to grant it
a place in modern linguistics.
B P, A., 1983, «El descubrimiento del sánscrito: tradición y novedad en la lingüística euro-
pea», Revista Española de Lingüística 13, 81-92.
B, F., 1816, Über das Conjugationssystem der Sanskritsprache in Vergleichung mit jenem der griechischen,
lateinischen, persischen und germanischen Sprache. Nebst Episoden aus dem Ramajana und Mahabharata in
genauen metrischen Übersetzungen aus dem Originaltexte und einigen Abschnitten aus den Vedas. Heraus-
gegeben und mit Vorerinnerungen begleitet von Dr. K. J. Windischmann, Frankfurt/M: Andreäsche Buch-
—, 1827, «Über J. Grimms’s deutsche Grammatik», Jahrbücher für wissenschaftliche Kritik, Febr. 1827. Re-
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