This introductory chapter defines periphrasis and briefly discusses previous studies of the phenomenon (types of periphrasis and defining criteria previously suggested). It outlines the typological diversity of periphrasis in terms of the word classes involved and the grammatical features realized by it, both typical and exotic. Then the discussion turns to the most common functions of periphrasis, such as making the inflectional paradigm of a language complete, and to the interaction of periphrasis with other morphological and syntactic phenomena of the given language. Since several chapters in the volume employ a set of criteria for periphrasis worked out within the Canonical Typology approach, these are listed in the introduction. The criteria prove valuable for the analysis of less familiar instances of periphrasis, such as nominal case in Nenets, the large periphrastic paradigms of Archi verb, and embedded periphrasis in Bulgarian. Finally, there is an outline of the chapters which make up the volume.
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