The aim of this paper is to present the most salient characteristics of Permian vowel ~ zero alternations and to analyse them in terms of grammaticalisation. The term `grammaticalisation' will be used here in a non-traditional sense. When we investigate grammaticalisation, it is not merely individual linguistic units (having turned into grammatical ones), but also relationships between linguistic units that are to be taken into consideration. If, for instance, a phonological relationship that originally obtained between certain forms and triggered the application of some automatic process turns into a non-automatic alternation that distinguishes linguistic units from one another, this is just as much an instance of grammaticalisation as the well-known cases in which an originally lexical item turns into a grammatical one. This hypothesis will be substantiated in this paper with the help of some considerations concerning Permian vowel ~ zero alternations.
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