This study demonstrates cross-linguistic parallels in the grammaticalization of ‘do’-auxiliaries in ,periphrastic, verb constructions. Such constructions are exemplified by the phenomenon of ‘do’-support in English, where they are
obligatory in interrogative and negative clauses. Similar phenomena can be attested across a wide range of genetically and typologically diverse languages. The auxiliary in ,periphrastic, ‘do’-constructions is derived from a ‘schematic action’ verb that can either be directly associated with a specific function, or it appears in the clause as a consequence of other grammatical
factors. Based on a sample of 200 languages I will argue that ,periphrastic, ‘do’-constructions become grammaticalized in a limited range of grammatical context after going through a stage of optional usage, and also that direct expression of a verbal category by a ‘do’-auxiliary represents a possible final stage of grammaticalization of the ‘schematic action’-verb. The verbal
categories expressed by such an element are restricted to a subsection of tense, aspect and mood. If in a given language the use of a ‘do’-auxiliary has become obligatory in association with other functions, the auxiliary will not grammaticalize further and continues as a semantically bleached dummy element. Tense, aspect and mood are therefore the only functional domains in which ‘do’-auxiliaries can become grammaticalized as meaningful elements.
2007. Vol. 2, no 1