linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying ...

, the term ''specialization'' (as defined by
Paul Hopper Paul J. Hopper is an American linguist of British birth. In 1973, he proposed the glottalic theoryThe glottalic theory is that Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family ...
), refers to one of the five principles by which
grammaticalization In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes i ...
can be detected while it is taking place. The other four principles are:
layering Layering has evolved as a common means of vegetative propagation of numerous species in natural environments. Layering is also utilized by horticulturists to propagate desirable plants. Natural layering typically occurs when a branch touches th ...
divergence In vector calculus Vector calculus, or vector analysis, is concerned with derivative, differentiation and integral, integration of vector fields, primarily in 3-dimensional Euclidean space \mathbb^3. The term "vector calculus" is sometimes ...
persistence Persistence may refer to: Math and computers * Image persistence, in LCD monitors * Persistence (computer science), the characteristic of data that outlives the execution of the program that created it * Persistence of a number, a mathematical qu ...
, and de-categorialization.


Specialization refers to the narrowing of choices that characterizes an emergent
grammatical constructionIn linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include pho ...
. The
meaning of a grammaticalizing feature decreases in scope, so that in time the feature conveys a generalized grammatical meaning.
"Within a functional domain, at one stage a variety of forms with different
semantic Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another ...
nuances may be possible; as grammaticalization takes place, this variety of formal choices narrows and the smaller number of forms selected assume more general grammatical meanings." (Hopper 1991: 22)


* Lessau, Donald A. A Dictionary of Grammaticalization. Bochum: Brockmeyer, 1994. * Hopper, Paul J. "On some principles of grammaticization". In Elizabeth Closs Traugott and Bernd Heine, eds. Approaches to Grammaticalization, Vol. I. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1991. pp. 17–36. Historical linguistics {{Ling-stub