In This Article Syntactic Change

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Textbooks
  • Edited Collections
  • Reference Works
  • English-Language Corpora
  • Non-English Corpora
  • Journals
  • English Modals
  • Infinitives
  • Null Subjects
  • Serial Verbs
  • Verb Movement

Linguistics Syntactic Change
by
Acrisio Pires, David Lightfoot
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0085

Introduction

Linguistics began in the 19th century as a historical science, asking how languages came to be the way they are. Almost all of the work dealt with the changing pronunciation of words and “sound change” more broadly. Much attention was paid to explaining why sounds changed the way they did, and that involved developing ideas about directionality. Work on syntax was limited to compiling how different languages expressed clause types differently, notably Vergleichende Syntax der Indogermanischen Sprachen, by Berthold Delbrück. With the greatly increased attention to syntax in the latter half of the 20th century, approaches to syntactic change were enriched significantly. Most of the work on change, both generative and nongenerative, continued the 19th-century search for an inherent directionality to language change, now in the domain of syntax, but other approaches were developed seeking to understand new syntactic systems arising through the contingent conditions of language acquisition.

General Overviews

With the new work on syntax emerging in the mid-20th century through models of phrase structure grammars, Harris-style surface transformations, and then the abstractions of generative grammar, scientists began to consider historical change in syntactic systems. Klima 1964 was the first major work, and Closs 1965 introduced the sociological notion of a diachronic grammar of a language that generated structures and sentences from various periods of that language. The universals in Greenberg 1966 identified harmonies, whereby a language with property p might necessarily have property q or might tend with varying degrees of probability to have properties r and s. This gave rise to the typological approach, in which languages were seen as changing from one pure type to another following a universal diachronic hierarchy in developing the harmonic features of the new language type, as seen in the anthologies Li 1975 and Li 1977. Lightfoot 1979 construed grammars as psychological properties of individuals attained by children exposed to limited primary linguistic data (PLD) in the first few years of life. Under that view, new grammars emerge when people are exposed to new PLD. Early work focused on structural shifts in which various phenomena changed as a function of a single new property in the grammar attained (e.g., Roberts 1993); the singularity of the change at the abstract level was taken to explain the simultaneity at the phenomenological level. More recent work has linked changes to conditions of language acquisition (Lightfoot 1999).

  • Closs, E. 1965. Diachronic syntax and generative grammar. Language 41.3: 402–415.

    DOI: 10.2307/411783E-mail Citation »

    Takes a sociological perspective on language and posits a diachronic grammar that generates structures from different periods of a language. Available online by subscription.

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    • Greenberg, J. H. 1966. Some universals of grammar with particular reference to the order of meaningful elements. In Universals of language. 2d ed. Edited by J. H. Greenberg, 73–113. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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      First detailed attempt to show the contribution of typological studies spanning a wide range of languages, focusing on correlations of typological markedness.

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      • Klima, E. S. 1964. Studies in diachronic transformational syntax. PhD diss., Harvard University.

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        First extensive case study of diachronic syntax from a generative perspective.

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        • Li, C. N., ed. 1975. Word order and word order change. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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          One of the first collections of papers on diachronic syntax, presented at a conference on the topic of word order and word order change across languages. The distinction between OV and VO pure types was central to early work on the hierarchy of changes undergone by languages moving from one pure type to another.

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          • Li, C. N., ed. 1977. Mechanisms of syntactic change. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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            Papers from a symposium on mechanisms of syntactic change held in Santa Barbara, California, in 1976. Reviewed by D. W. Lightfoot in 1979 (Language 55:381–395).

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            • Lightfoot, D. W. 1979. Principles of diachronic syntax. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              One of the first systematic accounts of the interrelationship between different kinds of syntactic change within generative grammar, offering a transparency principle as a motivating force for reanalyses.

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              • Lightfoot, D. W. 1999. The development of language: Acquisition, change, and evolution. Oxford: Blackwell.

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                Connects language change and development from a generative perspective, arguing in favor of a cue-based approach to acquisition and change.

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                • Roberts, I. G. 1993. Verbs and diachronic syntax: A comparative history of English and French. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.

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                  Generative analysis of the historical development of a number of English and French constructions involving various kinds of verb movement.

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                  Textbooks

                  There is only one comprehensive textbook on syntactic change, Roberts 2007, and textbooks on historical linguistics usually focus on sound and morphological change with little on change in syntax. Exceptions are McMahon 1994 and Hale 2007, which have substantial chapters on modern work in syntactic change.

                  • Hale, M. 2007. Historical linguistics: Theory and method. Oxford: Blackwell.

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                    Explores fundamental concepts in historical linguistics, topics such as language and change in connection with traditional and theoretically oriented historical work in phonology and syntax.

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                    • McMahon, A. M. S. 1994. Understanding language change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139166591E-mail Citation »

                      Analyzes change in every core area of grammar, including syntax, in addition to language contact, linguistic variation, pidgins and creoles, and language death.

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                      • Roberts, I. G. 2007. Diachronic syntax. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                        A coursebook on how the generative approach to linguistics can be used to explain how syntactic change takes place.

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                        Edited Collections

                        The major edited collections represent the fundamentally different approaches to syntactic change: the typological approach, as explored in Li 1977 (cited under General Overviews) and the generative approach, explored in the now annual meetings of the Diachronic Generative Syntax community, such as Battye and Roberts 1995; Crisma and Longobardi 2009; van Kemenade and Vincent 1997; Lightfoot 2002; and Pintzuk, et al. 2000. Steever, et al. 1976 is an early volume that emerged from the Chicago Linguistics Society, which took diachronic syntax as the theme for a parasession of its annual meeting in 1976. Eythórsson 2008 is a similarly comprehensive but recent discussion of various approaches to the study of syntactic change.

                        • Battye, A., and I. Roberts, eds. 1995. Clause structure and language change. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                          Proceedings of the 1st Generative Diachronic Syntax Conference (DiGS) at the University of York in 1990. Focuses on questions of clause structure, which became a central theme of theoretical work in the early development of the Minimalist Program.

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                          • Crisma, P., and G. Longobardi, eds. 2009. Historical syntax and linguistic theory. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                            DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199560547.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                            Proceedings of DiGS IX at the University of Trieste in 2006. Considers language change in the biolinguistic framework, parametric change in Minimalism, and the tension between the gradual nature of language change and the binary nature of parameters.

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                            • Eythórsson, T., ed. 2008. Grammatical change and linguistic theory: The Rosendal papers. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

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                              Papers focus on the causes of syntactic change, pinpointing both extrasyntactic (exogenous) causes and—more controversially—internally driven (endogenous) causes. The volume, generally critical of grammaticalization theory, includes contributions on morphological change alone.

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                              • Kemenade, A. van, and N. Vincent, eds. 1997. Parameters of morphosyntactic change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                Proceedings of DiGS III at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in 1994. Syntactic and morphological change in particular within the Minimalist Program, with a special interest in how grammatical phenomena such as aspect, mood, case, word order, clitics, and agreement interact over time.

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                                • Lightfoot, D. W., ed. 2002. Syntactic effects of morphological change. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                  DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199250691.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                  Proceedings of DiGS VI at the University of Maryland in 2000. Examines how far changes in morphology cause changes in syntax from the perspective of syntactic and psycholinguistic theory, in particular given the hypothesis that grammatical change is driven by child acquisition.

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                                  • Pintzuk, S., G. Tsoulas, and A. Warner, eds. 2000. Diachronic syntax: Models and mechanisms. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                    Proceedings of DiGS V at the University of York in 1998. Work in historical syntax taking into account theoretical advances in linguistic theory, language acquisition, sociolinguistics, as well as fields such as statistical techniques and evolutionary biology.

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                                    • Steever, S. B., C. A. Walker, and S. S. Mufwene, eds. 1976. Papers from the parasession on diachronic syntax. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.

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                                      Papers from a parasession of the annual meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society covering data on morphological and syntactic change in a wide range of languages during the early stages of systematic work on syntactic change.

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                                      Reference Works

                                      The three volumes of Delbrück 1893–1900 represent the bulk of 19th-century work on syntactic change, essentially listing the major construction types in a variety of Indo-European languages. Traditional descriptive work continued through much of the 20th century, and examples are given from work on the history of English: Jespersen 1909–1949 and Denison 1993 are comprehensive accounts of changes affecting a wide range of syntactic constructions in the history of English according to the descriptive norms of the early and late 20th century, respectively; Ellegård 1953 is a monumental study of the rise of periphrastic do; Mitchell 1985 constitutes a rich description of Old English syntax; Visser 1963–1973 offers a vast collection of examples of various constructions, including the first attested case of an innovation and the last attested case of an obsolete construction; and Wyld 1927 tries to reveal what can be deduced about colloquial speech in a range of regional dialects. A few references (Jasonoff 2004, Price 1971) are provided for other major European languages, but, of course, the list could be much longer.

                                      • Delbrück, B. 1893–1900. Vergleichende Syntax der Indogermanischen Sprachen. Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der Indogermanischen Sprachen 3–5. Strassburg, Germany: Trübner.

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                                        The culmination of 19th-century work on syntactic constructions in the ancient Indo-European languages.

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                                        • Denison, D. 1993. English historical syntax. London: Longman.

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                                          A comprehensive discussion of virtually all work on the historical syntax of English.

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                                          • Ellegård, A. 1953. The auxiliary do: The establishment and regulation of its use in English. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.

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                                            A particularly sophisticated work that includes rich statistics on the frequency of various usages.

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                                            • Jasonoff, J. 2004. Gothic. In The Cambridge encyclopedia of the world’s ancient languages. Edited by R. D. Woodward, 881–906. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                              The encyclopedia provides descriptions for well-attested languages existing before 500 AD.

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                                              • Jespersen, O. 1909–1949. A modern English grammar on historical principles. 7 vols. London: Allen & Unwin.

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                                                A classic treatment of many aspects of English and the changes they have undergone.

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                                                • Mitchell, B. 1985. Old English syntax. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon.

                                                  DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198119357.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                  Extensive description of Old English syntax, summarizing the state of knowledge about different phenomena.

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                                                  • Price, G. 1971. The French language: Present and past. London: Edward Arnold.

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                                                    Overview of the history of French.

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                                                    • Visser, F. Th. 1963–1973. An historical syntax of the English language. 3 vols. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                      An extensive compendium of construction types, providing the first and, in the case of obsolete types, the last attestation.

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                                                      • Wyld, H. C. 1927. A short history of English. London: Murray.

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                                                        A historical description that sought to record information about different forms of English.

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                                                        English-Language Corpora

                                                        A particular type of digital resource that has revolutionized work on syntactic change is the parsed corpora that have emanated from the University of Pennsylvania. These corpora tag sentences with structural information in such a way that researchers can seek data to test analyses quickly and comprehensively. Kroch and Taylor 2000; Taylor, et al. 2003; Kroch, et al. 2004; Taylor, et al. 2006; and Kroch, et al. 2010 encompass texts from various periods of English, and more recent corpora for French, Portuguese, Hungarian, and Icelandic are facilitating interesting comparative work (see Non-English Corpora). These partially parsed corpora constitute a revolutionary and vitally important dimension of work in syntactic change.

                                                        Non-English Corpora

                                                        Different initiatives have led to the development of electronic historical corpora for a few languages other than English, including French (Modéliser le changement: Les voies du français), German (Parsed Corpus of Early High German), Icelandic (Wallenberg, et al. 2011), and Portuguese (Galves and Faria 2010).

                                                        • Galves, C., and P. Faria. 2010. Tycho Brahe parsed corpus of historical Portuguese. Campinas, Brazil: Department of Linguistics, Univ. of Campinas.

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                                                          This is an electronic corpus of texts in Portuguese written by authors born between 1380 and 1845, including fifty-three texts with approximately 2.5 million words.

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                                                          • Light, C., ed. Parsed corpus of Early High German. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania.

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                                                            Corpus consists of more than 100,000 words of fully parsed text from Martin Luther’s first translation of the New Testament, the Septembertestament (published 1522).

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                                                            • Martineau, F., ed. Modéliser le changement: Les voies du français. Ottawa, Canada: Univ. of Ottawa.

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                                                              Corpus structured considering dialectal, social, and historical factors, including complete searchable texts from Old French to classical French, including Canadian French (17th and 18th centuries).

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                                                              • Wallenberg, J., A. Ingason, E. Sigurðsson, and E. Rögnvaldsson, eds. 2011. Icelandic parsed historical corpus (IcePaHC). Version 0.9. Reykjavik: Univ. of Iceland.

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                                                                A diachronic corpus of a million words, with samples of written Icelandic from all periods from 1150 to 2008.

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                                                                Journals

                                                                The journal Diachronica deals with all matters of language change. Language Variation and Change deals with sociolinguistic analyses of variation that often leads to historical change. Language & History deals with matters of language change and the history of work in linguistics.

                                                                Theories and Methods

                                                                This section introduces the major theoretical ideas that have shaped research on syntactic change. Work on competing grammars has facilitated new approaches to sociolinguistic variation insofar as it prefigures historical change. Cue-based analyses of language acquisition analyses have enabled scientists to make hypotheses about what phenomena in external language trigger particular properties of internal systems. Work on grammaticalization, typological approaches, and universal grammar (UG) predicting directionality has elaborated ideas about general directions to syntactic change.

                                                                Competing Grammars

                                                                The idea that people function with more than one internal language system (I-language), coexisting or competing grammars (Kroch 1989, Kroch 1994), makes the strong prediction that variation in people’s language faculty is between two or more fixed points at the level of grammars and not random oscillation across sets of data. It also offers a new way of thinking about apparent optionality of grammatical operations: Rather than thinking of some operations as obligatory and some as optional (which raises serious learnability problems, because that distinction generally depends on access to negative data, unavailable to children), one can think of people functioning with two or more grammars, where all operations are obligatory and children do not need access to negative data to distinguish optional/obligatory operations. This idea has been productive in thinking about syntactic change, where researchers have viewed one grammar gradually spreading through a population as new lexical items spread at the expense of others. Kroch and Taylor 1997 and Pintzuk 1999 work out the competing grammars approach to specific changes in the history of English. Similarly, Kato, et al. 2009 tackles phenomena in the history of Brazilian Portuguese from the perspective of competing grammars. Yang 2002 provides a mathematicization of competing grammars.

                                                                • Kato, M. A., S. L. Cyrino, and V. R. Corrêa. 2009. Brazilian Portuguese and the recovery of lost clitics through schooling. In Minimalist inquiries into child and adult language acquisition: Case studies across Portuguese. Edited by A. Pires and J. Rothman, 245–272. Berlin: de Gruyter.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1515/9783110215359E-mail Citation »

                                                                  A detailed case study of interspeaker variation (considering primarily age and level of education) regarding recovery of clitic grammatical properties that were lost from colloquial dialects.

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                                                                  • Kroch, A. 1989. Reflexes of grammar in patterns of language change. Language Variation and Change 1.3: 199–244.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S0954394500000168E-mail Citation »

                                                                    Introduces the constant rate effect and the notion of competing grammars. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                    • Kroch, A. 1994. Morphosyntactic variation. In Papers from the 30th regional meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society: Parasession on variation and linguistic theory. Vol. 2. Edited by K. Beals, 180–201. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.

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                                                                      Proposes that syntactic variation among languages is due to cross-linguistic differences in the morphosyntactic properties of functional heads.

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                                                                      • Kroch, A., and A. Taylor. 1997. Verb movement in Old and Middle English: Dialect variation and language contact. In Parameters of morphosyntactic change. Edited by A. van Kemenade and N. Vincent, 297–325. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                        Discusses the loss of verb-second (V2) in English as a function of competition between northern and southern grammars.

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                                                                        • Pintzuk, S. 1999. Phrase structures in competition: Variation and change in Old English word order. New York: Garland.

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                                                                          Investigates variation and change in Old English word order, with special emphasis on the change from OV to VO order.

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                                                                          • Yang, C. 2002. Grammar competition and language change. In Syntactic effects of morphological change. Edited by D. W. Lightfoot, 367–380. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199250691.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                            Attempts to develop a general mathematical model to formalize insights about grammar competition driving language change.

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                                                                            Cue-Based Acquisition

                                                                            The standard approach to language acquisition through the history of generative grammar has been to view the child as evaluating grammars against sets of sentences and selecting the grammar that generates the target set in the simplest way. That approach has many problems, as discussed in Lightfoot 1999 (cited under General Overviews) and Lightfoot 2006, and did not provide a good way of thinking about change, because the target set needed to change in order to trigger the new grammar, a vicious circularity. Cue-based acquisition, on the other hand, treats children as selecting cues provided by UG if they are expressed in the PLD (i.e., required for the analysis of some PLD). Under that view, the PLD may shift through changes in external language (E-language), triggering a new grammar (internal language, or I-language), which in turn generates new structures. The E-language/I-language distinction is crucial to this approach. Dresher 1999 shows how cue-based analyses automatically predict aspects of the sequence in which learning takes place, and Pires 2002 applies the cue-based approach to issues in the history of European and Brazilian Portuguese.

                                                                            • Dresher, B. E. 1999. Charting the learning path: Cues to parameter setting. Linguistic Inquiry 30.1: 27–67.

                                                                              DOI: 10.1162/002438999553959E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Argues that a learner does not attempt to match target forms but uses them as a source for local cues for parameter setting, without appeal to a global fitness metric. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                              • Lightfoot, D. W. 2006. How new languages emerge. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511616204E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Argues that children are the driving force behind the rise of new linguistic systems, discussing how adults and children play complementary roles in language change, given a distinction between external language and internal language (language as represented in an individual’s brain).

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                                                                                • Pires, A. 2002. Cue-based change: Inflection and subjects in the history of Portuguese infinitives. In Syntactic effects of morphological change. Edited by D. W. Lightfoot, 143–159. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199250691.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Proposes a cue-based approach to the rise and loss of inflected infinitives in different Portuguese dialects.

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                                                                                  Grammaticalization

                                                                                  Meillet 1912 and Kuryłowicz 1965 observe that over time verbs and members of other major lexical categories may lose their lexical status and become “grammaticalized,” members of grammatical or functional categories. This represents a candidate for a general direction to change of the kind first sought by 19th-century linguists and continuing to tantalize historical linguists to the present day. A well-studied example is the history of the English Modals. There are two fundamentally different approaches to grammaticalization, one taking the phenomenon to be an explanandum, to be explained, and the other taking it as explanans, or explanatory. The former approach seeks accounts for why a particular change took place under particular circumstances, for example identifying new PLD that would trigger the new grammaticized analysis (e.g., the reanalysis of certain verbs as modal auxiliaries in Early Modern English). The latter approach, often referred to as grammaticalization theory, takes the tendency to grammaticalize as causal, explaining why the change happens and entailing that apparent changes in the reverse direction (so-called degrammaticalization) are illusory. Further developments and assessment of this approach are illustrated in Traugott and Trousdale 2010. There have been attempts to incorporate grammaticalization into generative analyses, and UG “biases” are said to entail internally driven changes, independent of prior changes to PLD (see UG Predicting Directionality). Hopper and Traugott 2003 offers the major textbook treatment of grammaticalization, and Garrett 2012, Joseph 2001, and Kiparsky 2012 consider the explanatory power of grammaticalization accounts of reanalysis, while Wu 2000 offers a rich account of grammaticalization phenomena in a non-Indo-European language.

                                                                                  • Garrett, A. 2012. The historical syntax problem: Reanalysis and directionality. In Grammatical change: Origins, nature, outcomes. Edited by D. Jonas, J. Whitman, and A. Garrett, 52–72. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                    Argues that although reanalysis brings attention to syntactic change, it has little explanatory force per se, also failing to explain directional asymmetries.

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                                                                                    • Hopper, P., and E. C. Traugott. 2003. Grammaticalization. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139165525E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      The main textbook treatment of grammaticalization.

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                                                                                      • Joseph, B. 2001. Is there such a thing as grammaticalization? Language Sciences 23.2–3: 163–186.

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                                                                                        Considers different arguments for and against the idea of grammaticalization, using evidence from languages such as Greek and Old and Modern English.

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                                                                                        • Kiparsky, P. 2012. Grammaticalization as optimization. In Grammatical change: Origins, nature, outcomes. Edited by D. Jonas, J. Whitman, and A. Garrett, 15–51. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                          A grammar-based view of grammaticalization as a type of nonexemplar-based analogy, which projects UG constraints that are not positively instantiated in the language.

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                                                                                          • Kuryłowicz, J. 1965. L’évolution des categories grammaticales. Diogenes 51:55–71.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1177/039219216501305105E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            An early approach to grammaticalization with emphasis on the distinction between syntactic and semantic properties. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                            • Meillet, A. 1912. L’évolution des formes grammaticales. Scientia (Rivista di Scienza) 12.26: 6.

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                                                                                              The first detailed proposal for the existence of grammaticalization phenomena. Reprinted in Linguistique historique et linguistique générale (Paris: Champion, 1958).

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                                                                                              • Traugott, E., and G. Trousdale, eds. 2010. Gradience, gradualness and grammaticalization. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

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                                                                                                Papers investigate the relationship between synchronic gradience and the apparent gradualness of linguistic change, largely from the perspective of grammaticalization.

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                                                                                                • Wu, Z. 2000. Grammaticalization and the development of functional categories in Chinese. PhD diss., University of Southern California.

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                                                                                                  Examines how functional categories have developed in Chinese and argues for the existence of a variety of processes of grammaticalization and reanalysis.

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                                                                                                  Syntactic Reconstruction

                                                                                                  A great deal of work on syntactic change, particularly within typological approaches, has dealt with changes from prehistorical, reconstructed systems. Several full-length studies were published in the mid-1970s regarding the reconstruction of word order in Proto-Indo-European (PIE). Lehmann 1974 argues that the PIE clause word order was subject—object—verb order; Friedrich 1975 argues for a subject—verb—object order and Miller 1975 for a verb—subject—object order. Such discrepancies raise questions about the methods followed: How can one reconstruct prior, unattested syntactic systems? The traditional methods used by historical phonologists and morphologists, the comparative method, and, somewhat more dubiously, internal reconstruction cannot apply for reasons discussed in Watkins 1976 and Lightfoot 1980 and debated between Campbell and Harris 2002 and Lightfoot 2002. Lehmann 1974 uses pure language types; Harris and Campbell 1995 uses sentence patterns; and others use statistically most common phenomena as a means to reconstruct; discussion of the validity of these methods has been sketchy at best.

                                                                                                  • Campbell, L., and A. Harris. 2002. Syntactic reconstruction and demythologizing “Myths and the prehistory of grammars.” Journal of Linguistics 38.3: 599–618.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S0022226702001706E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Argues that evidence for historical relationships in syntax can be based on strict correspondences, not just similarities. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                    • Friedrich, P. 1975. Proto-Indo-European syntax: The order of meaningful elements. Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph 1. Butte, MT: Journal of Indo-European Studies.

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                                                                                                      Argues that Proto-Indo-European had subject—verb—object order.

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                                                                                                      • Harris, A., and L. Campbell. 1995. Historical syntax in cross-linguistic perspective. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511620553E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        A cross-linguistic comparison of syntactic change across a variety of languages is used to construct hypotheses about the universals and limits of language change.

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                                                                                                        • Lehmann, W. P. 1974. Proto-Indo-European syntax. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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                                                                                                          One of the first encompassing attempts to determine aspects of Proto-Indo-European syntax.

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                                                                                                          • Lightfoot, D. W. 1980. Sur la reconstruction d’une proto-syntaxe. Langages 60:109–123.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.3406/lgge.1980.1864E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Discusses the applicability of the comparative method in reconstructing a proto-syntax. (English version appears in P. Ramat, ed. 1980. Linguistic reconstruction and Indo-European syntax. Amsterdam: Benjamins).

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                                                                                                            • Lightfoot, D. W. 2002. Myths and the prehistory of grammars. Journal of Linguistics 38.1: 113–136.

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                                                                                                              Upholds thesis that the comparative method of linguistic reconstruction can be applied to syntactic patterns only if daughter languages display effectively identical patterns. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                              • Miller, D. G. 1975. Indo-European: VSO, SOV, SVO, or all three? Lingua 37.1: 31–52.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/0024-3841(75)90003-0E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                Extensive reassessment of the facts concerning word-order type in Indo-European demonstrates that the facts are not unambiguous. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                • Watkins, C. 1976. Toward Proto-Indo-European syntax: Problems and pseudo-problems. In Papers from the parasession on diachronic syntax. Edited by S. B. Steever, C. A. Walker, and S. S. Mufwene, 305–326. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.

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                                                                                                                  A strong criticism of early attempts to reconstruct Proto-Indo-European word order.

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                                                                                                                  Typological Approaches

                                                                                                                  Typologists characterize languages as having harmonic properties that change according to a universal hierarchy as a language changes from one pure type to another. Li 1975, Li 1977 (both cited under General Overviews), Li and Thompson 1974, Vennemann 1974, and Vennemann 1975 boosted this work in the 1970s, as work on syntactic change was beginning, and provided an impetus to other, differently conceived work. Comrie 1989, Croft 2000, and Croft 2003 provide comprehensive treatments of typological approaches.

                                                                                                                  • Comrie, B. 1989. Language universals and linguistic typology: Syntax and morphology. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                    Perhaps still the best introduction to language typology.

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                                                                                                                    • Croft, W. 2000. Explaining language change: An evolutionary approach. London: Longman.

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                                                                                                                      A general account of language change in functional-typological terms.

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                                                                                                                      • Croft, W. 2003. Typology and universals. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                        A comprehensive introduction to the method and theory used in studying typology and universals in phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics.

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                                                                                                                        • Li, C. N., and S. A. Thompson. 1974. An explanation of word order change SVO→SOV. Foundations of Language 12.2: 201–212.

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                                                                                                                          Evaluation of the pathways of word order changes, specifically considering Mandarin Chinese and its SVO to SOV path. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                          • Vennemann, T. 1974. Topics, subjects, and word order: From SXV to SVX via TVX. In Historical linguistics: Proceedings of the first International Conference on Historical Linguistics. Edited by J. M. Anderson and C. Jones, 339–376. Amsterdam: North Holland.

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                                                                                                                            Introduces the natural serialization principle to account for Greenberg’s harmonic properties.

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                                                                                                                            • Vennemann, T. 1975. An explanation of drift. In Word order and word order change. Edited by C. N. Li, 269–306. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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                                                                                                                              Develops the view that changes in the word order and development of grammatical items in Proto-Germanic would have been first triggered by phonological changes.

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                                                                                                                              UG Predicting Directionality

                                                                                                                              Generativist works like Biberauer and Roberts 2008, van Gelderen 2004, van Gelderen 2011, and Roberts and Roussou 2003 have engaged with typological change and grammaticalization by seeking to derive changes from biases built into UG. If UG has a bias against certain properties, this is taken to explain why those properties are lost over time. Roberts 1997 and Roberts 2010 seek to derive a wider range of historical changes (not discussed in the grammaticalization and typological literature) from properties of UG.

                                                                                                                              • Biberauer, T., and I. Roberts. 2008. Cascading parameter changes: Internally driven change in Middle and Early Modern English. In Grammatical change and linguistic theory: The Rosendal papers. Edited by T. Eythórsson, 79–114. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

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                                                                                                                                Explores the idea that a syntax-internal cause for syntactic change arises when an initial, extra-syntactically induced parameter change creates a system that has a propensity to further parametric change.

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                                                                                                                                • Roberts, I. 1997. Directionality and word order change in the history of English. In Parameters of morphosyntactic change. Edited by A. van Kemenade and N. Vincent., 397–426. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                  Adapts Kayne’s linear correspondence axiom (see Kayne’s The Antisymmetry of Syntax, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994) to account for Dutch word order as underlyingly head-initial and extends it to account for word order changes from Old to Middle English.

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                                                                                                                                  • Roberts, I. 2010. Grammaticalization: The clausal hierarchy and semantic bleaching. In Gradience, gradualness and grammaticalization. Edited by E. Traugott and G. Trousdale, 45–73. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

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                                                                                                                                    Takes questions of gradience and gradualness to question the nature of grammatical categories.

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                                                                                                                                    • Roberts, I. G., and A. Roussou. 2003. Syntactic change: A minimalist approach to grammaticalization. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511486326E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Keys categorical reanalysis to properties of functional heads.

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                                                                                                                                      • van Gelderen, E.. 2004. Grammaticalization as economy. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

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                                                                                                                                        Argues that there is historical evidence for unidirectional changes that are expected within a grammatical theory constrained by economy principles.

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                                                                                                                                        • van Gelderen, E.. 2011. The linguistic cycle: Language change and the language faculty. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756056.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Provides examples of linguistic cycles from a number of languages and language families, along with an account of the linguistic cycle in terms of Minimalist economy principles.

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                                                                                                                                          Individual Language Analyses

                                                                                                                                          There has been such an efflorescence of work on syntactic change in many languages that any list of studies in individual languages can only scratch the surface. A list of examples is provided only to illustrate the range and is far from comprehensive.

                                                                                                                                          Indo-European Languages

                                                                                                                                          Fischer, et al. 2001 is just one of many interesting studies on the history of English. There is also a rich tradition of work on Scandinavian, illustrated here by Faarlund 2004 and Maling and Sigurjónsdóttir 2002, and on Romance, illustrated by Harris 1978, Pearce 1990, and Wanner 1987. Horrocks 2007 offers a comprehensive history of Greek, and Schmalstieg 1987 treats Lithuanian, a language often regarded as one of the most conservative of the Indo-European languages.

                                                                                                                                          • Faarlund, J. T. 2004. The syntax of Old Norse. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                            The first account of Old Norse syntax for almost 100 years and the first ever in a non-Scandinavian language.

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                                                                                                                                            • Fischer, O., A. van Kemenade, W. Koopman, and W. van der Wurff. 2001. The syntax of Early English. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511612312E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              A guide to the development of various aspects of English syntax between the Old and Modern periods.

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                                                                                                                                              • Harris, M. 1978. The evolution of French syntax: A comparative approach. London: Longman.

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                                                                                                                                                An extensive comparative approach to syntactic change in the history of French with a focus on analytic/synthetic grammatical categories, word order, and prefixation/suffixation.

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                                                                                                                                                • Horrocks, G. 2007. Syntax: From Classical Greek to the Koine. In A history of ancient Greek: From the beginnings to late antiquity. Edited by A.-F. Christidis, 618–631. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                  Development and change of Greek syntax from Classical to the Koine of the Hellenistic period.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Maling, J., and S. Sigurjónsdóttir. 2002. The “new impersonal” construction in Icelandic. Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 5.1–3: 97–142.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1023/A:1021224923742E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Test of the hypothesis that the innovative impersonal construction involves the reanalysis of passive morphology as a syntactically active construction with a phonologically null impersonal subject. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Pearce, E. 1990. Parameters in Old French syntax: Infinitival complements. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1007/978-94-009-1884-9E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Argues that a more complex inflectional domain of infinitives in Modern French emerged in the course of developments starting in Old French.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Schmalstieg, W. R. 1987. A Lithuanian historical syntax. Columbus, OH: Slavica.

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                                                                                                                                                        Probably the most extensive case study of Lithuanian diachronic syntax.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Wanner, D. 1987. The development of Romance clitic pronouns: From Latin to Old Romance. Berlin: de Gruyter.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1515/9783110893069E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          An extensive comparative analysis of the development of clitics in the Romance languages, aiming at a universal conceptualization of clitic elements.

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                                                                                                                                                          Non-Indo-European Languages

                                                                                                                                                          At the risk of omitting reference to work on many languages, this section provides illustrative work on non-Indo-European languages. Aldridge 2010, Peyraube 1996, and Whitman and Waltraud 2005 offer analyses of richly attested Chinese. Watanabe 2002 and Whitman 1999 treat Japanese; Harris 1985 and Harris 2002 analyze a number of Caucasian languages; and Akkadian is analyzed in Deutscher 2007.

                                                                                                                                                          • Aldridge, E. 2010. Clitic climbing in archaic Chinese: Evidence for the movement analysis of control. In Movement theory of control. Edited by N. Hornstein and M. Polinsky, 149–181. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

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                                                                                                                                                            Analysis of clitics in archaic Chinese and of the origin of negator fu.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Deutscher, G. 2007. Syntactic change in Akkadian: The evolution of sentential complementation. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                              Examines the historical development of Akkadian, the oldest recorded Semitic language and one of the earliest attested languages.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Harris, A. C. 1985. Diachronic syntax: The Kartvelian case. New York: Academic Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                Detailed investigation of syntactic changes in the Kartvelian languages, also comparing the synchronic syntax of the sister languages, Laz, Mingrelian, and Svan.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Harris, A. C. 2002. Endoclitics and the origins of Udi morphosyntax. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                  A detailed case study of the possibility of clitics occurring inside other words and corresponding syntactic changes in a language of the Northeast Caucasian language family.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Peyraube, A. 1996. Recent issues in Chinese historical syntax. In New horizons in Chinese linguistics. Edited by C. T. J. Huang and Y. H. Li, 161–213. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/978-94-009-1608-1E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Assesses recent research in diachronic Chinese syntax with a focus on word order, passives, datives, locatives, and interrogatives, among other topics.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Watanabe, A. 2002. Loss of overt wh-movement in Old Japanese. In Syntactic effects of morphological change. Edited by D. W. Lightfoot, 179–195. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199250691.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      Considers the mechanism that drove the loss of overt wh-movement in Old Japanese.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Whitman, J. 1999. Personal pronoun shift in Japanese: A case study in lexical change and point of view. In Function and structure: In honor of Susumu Kuno. Edited by A. Kamio and K. Takami, 357–386. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Semantic change in Japanese pronouns is investigated in light of two different functionalist theories that use the notion of empathy, or speaker’s adoption of another actor’s viewpoint.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Whitman, J., and P. Waltraud. 2005. Reanalysis and conservancy of structure in Chinese. In Grammaticalization and parametric variation. Edited by M. Battlori, M. L. Hernanz, C. Picallo, and F. Roca, 82–94. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199272129.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Application of approaches to changes in features driving movement, grammaticalization, and reanalysis as relabeling to well-known examples of syntactic change in Chinese.

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                                                                                                                                                                          English Modals

                                                                                                                                                                          Lightfoot 1979 (cited under General Overviews) argues that a set of verbs in early English were reanalyzed as auxiliaries in Early Modern English, many phenomena changing simultaneously as a result of this single change in the grammars of English speakers. This has been taken to be a paradigm case of grammaticalization and of a single change in grammars explaining the simultaneity of a range of phenomena in the new grammar. Much subsequent work has refined and elaborated the analysis, which Lightfoot 2006 (cited under Cue-Based Acquisition) summarizes, arguing that there is now a rich explanation for the nature of the change and the new PLD that triggered it, a function of the radical simplification of verb morphology in Middle English. Roberts 1993 (cited under General Overviews) and Warner 1993 provide important insights on these changes.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Warner, A. 1993. English auxiliaries: Structure and history. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511752995E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            A major empirical study showing that for an interval of a few hundred years there were writers with both the old and new grammars, anticipating work on competing grammars.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Infinitives

                                                                                                                                                                            Infinitives vary in their form and distribution and have undergone changes in several languages, some infinitives being inflected or more nominal in character. The variation in the form and distribution of infinitives across languages illuminates the way they might change historically from one I-language to another. Los 1999 considers infinitives in the history of English; Ledgeway 1998, Martins 2001, Pires 2006, and Sitaridou 2009 consider infinitives in the Romance languages; and Joseph 1983 and Joseph 1992 treat infinitives primarily in the Balkan languages, notably different forms of Greek. Miller 2002 deals with infinitives across a wide range of languages.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Joseph, B. 1983. The synchrony and diachrony of the Balkan infinitive: A study in areal, general, and historical linguistics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Account of the loss of the infinitive and its replacement by finite verb forms in the languages of the Balkan peninsula—Greek, Albanian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, and Romanian.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Joseph, B. 1992. Diachronic perspectives on control. In Control and grammar. Edited by R. Larson, S. Iatridou, U. Lahiri, and J. Higginbotham, 195–234. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1007/978-94-015-7959-9E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                Case study on change in control structures from several languages, including Middle and Early Modern English and Ancient and Modern Greek.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Ledgeway, A. 1998. Variation in the Romance infinitive: The case of the southern Calabrian inflected infinitive. Transactions of the Philological Society 96.1: 1–61.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/1467-968X.00023E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Examines variation in function and form in the various species of Romance infinitive. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Los, B. 1999. Infinitival complementation in Old and Middle English. The Hague: Thesus.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Treats changes in the form of infinitives in early English and seeks to correlate changes in form with changes in the distribution of infinitives.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Martins, A. M. 2001. On the origin of the Portuguese inflected infinitive: A new perspective on an enduring debate. In Historical linguistics 1999: Selected papers from the 14th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Vancouver, 9–13 August 1999. Edited by L. J. Brinton, 207–222. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Explains the rise of Portuguese inflected infinitives from Late Latin.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Miller, D. G. 2002. Nonfinite structures in theory and change. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Investigates the precise nature of nonfinite structures and the ways in which they change, examining a broad range of structures, including infinitives, gerunds, and participles, across Indo-European and non-Indo-European languages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Pires, A. 2006. The minimalist syntax of defective domains: Gerunds and infinitives. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Unifies the analysis of certain nonfinite domains, focusing on subject licensing, agreement, and case and control, with incursions into changes in infinitives.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Sitaridou, I. 2009. On the emergence of personal infinitives in the history of Spanish. Diachronica 26.1: 36–64.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1075/dia.26.1.02sitE-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            Analyzes the rise of personal infinitives in the history of Spanish from the perspective of language acquisition. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Null Subjects

                                                                                                                                                                                            The first paradigm example of parametric variation within the principles and parameters model that emerged in the late 1970s was that of null subjects (pro-drop): Languages such as Italian and Spanish allow null subjects, while English and German do not. There has been much discussion about the conditions that must hold for null subjects to exist, and those conditions have consequences for how null subjects might change over time. Examining the diachronic trajectories has been a significant way of testing synchronic analyses and the predicted correlations. Adams 1987 provides the earliest historical treatment of Romance null subjects in terms of the principles-and-parameters approach to language variation and influenced subsequent treatments of null subjects in Romance offered by Duarte 1993, Kato and Negrão 2000, and Vance 1997. Williams 2000 treats null subjects in Middle English.

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Adams, M. 1987. From Old French to the theory of pro-drop. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 5.1: 1–32.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1007/BF00161866E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              Investigation of pro-drop in the syntax of Old French in comparison with current Romance languages. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Duarte, E. 1993. Do pronome nulo ao pronome pleno: A trajetória do sujeito no português do Brasil. In Português brasileiro: Uma viagem diacrônica Homenagem a Fernando Tarallo. Edited by I. Roberts and M. Kato, 107–162. Campinas, Brazil: Editora da Unicamp.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                First detailed proposal that Brazilian Portuguese is in the process of losing its null subject properties.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Kato, M., and E. V. Negrão, eds. 2000. Brazilian Portuguese and the null subject parameter. Madrid: Iberoamericano.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Papers on the syntax of Brazilian Portuguese subjects, including discussions about the diachrony of null and overt subjects and VS inversion.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Vance, B. S. 1997. Syntactic change in medieval French: Verb-second and null subjects. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/978-94-015-8843-0E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Considers the synchronic and diachronic syntax of finite clauses in medieval French from a generative point of view.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Williams, A. 2000. Null subjects in Middle English existentials. In Diachronic syntax: Models and mechanisms. Edited by S. Pintzuk, G. Tsoulas, and A. Warner, 164–187. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Investigates null expletives and their sudden disappearance in Middle English.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Serial Verbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Many languages show lexical verbs occurring in sequences, serially within a single clause, and changes involving serial verbs have been a focus of attention, particularly in typological and grammaticalization approaches to change. Givón 1975 treats serial verbs from a typological perspective, while Lord 1976, Lord 1993, Schachter 1974, and Steever 1988 provide earlier analyses of serial verbs that helped to shape more recent approaches to grammaticalization.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Givón, T. 1975. Serial verbs and syntactic change: Niger-Congo. In Word order and word order change. Edited by C. N. Li, 47–112. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Argues that the development of case through serialization slows down SOV-SVO change in Niger-Congo languages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Lord, C. 1976. Evidence for syntactic reanalysis: From verb to complementizer in Kwa. In Papers from the parasession on diachronic syntax. Edited by S. B. Steever, C. A. Walker, and S. S. Mufwene, 179–191 Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Argues that serial verbs were recategorized as complementizers in Kwa, hence an instance of what would be construed later as grammaticalization.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Lord, C. 1993. Historical change in serial verb constructions. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Examines both historical and comparative evidence in diachronic changes in serial verb constructions, using data from languages of West Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Schachter, P. 1974. A non-transformational account of serial verbs. Studies in African Linguistics (Suppl. 5): 253–271.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Provides a verb phrase (VP) recursion analysis of serial verbs in Akan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Steever, S. 1988. The serial verb formation in the Dravidian languages. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Explores the linguistic structure and development of the serial verb formation as a family of constructions whose very existence has escaped the notice of earlier Dravidianists.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Verb Movement

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Much work has focused on the movement of verbs to higher functional positions to yield V2 phenomena in some languages. These movement operations have been correlated with morphological properties, null subjects, and so on, and studying how they change over time has also been of considerable interest to synchronic syntacticians. The loss of verb movement in English now represents one of the best understood instances of syntactic change. Biberauer and Roberts 2010 and Rohrbacher 1994 deal with verb raising in connection with agreement and tense features. Adams 1988 considers V2 effects in Romance; van Kemenade and Westergaard 2012 and Kroch and Taylor 1997 in Middle English; Santorini 1989 in Yiddish; and Willis 1999 in Welsh. Weerman 1989 treats V2 phenomena more generally across the Germanic languages.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Adams, M. 1988. Les effets V2 en ancien et moyen français. Revue Québécoise de Linguistique Théorique et Appliquée 7:13–39.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Examines in detail the properties of V2 in Old and Middle French.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Biberauer, T., and I. Roberts. 2010. Subjects, tense and verb-movement. In Parametric variation: Null subjects in minimalist theory. Edited by T. Biberauer, A. Holmberg, I. Roberts, and M. Sheehan, 263–302. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A closer look at the attraction properties of T, focusing on the distinction between rich inflection of agreement and of tense.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Kroch, A., and A. Taylor. 1997. Verb movement in Old and Middle English: Dialect variation and language contact. In Parameters of morphosyntactic change. Edited by A. van Kemenade and N. Vincent, 297–325. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Explains and exploits dialectal distinctions related to V2 in Old and Middle English.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Rohrbacher, B. 1994. The Germanic VO languages and the full paradigm: A theory of V to I raising. PhD diss., University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Investigates the morphosyntactic conditions under which the verb moves to a higher inflectional category across different languages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Santorini, B. 1989. The generalization of the verb-second constraint in the history of Yiddish. PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Contains interesting discussion about V2 phenomena in embedded clauses, including comparative date from Icelandic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • van Kemenade, A., and M. Westergaard. 2012. Syntax and information structure: Verb-second variation in Middle English. In Information structure and syntactic change in the history of English. Edited by A. Meurmann-Solin, M. Lopez-Couso, and B. Los, 87–118. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860210.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Argues that functional factors influence syntactic change.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Weerman, F. 1989. The V2 conspiracy: A synchronic and diachronic analysis. PhD diss., Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Comparative analysis of the V2 phenomenon in various Germanic languages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Willis, D. W. 1999. Syntactic change in Welsh: A study of the loss of verb-second. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A detailed study of the process of loss of verb movement in Welsh.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Word Order

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The change of object—verb order to verb—object order in English, Scandinavian, and Romance languages was much studied in the 19th century, and many statistical studies were conducted. Those changes have continued to be a central focus for both typological and generative work on syntactic change. Bean 1983 and Canale 1978 provide early generative analyses of basic word order change from object—verb to verb—object in Early English. This was followed by Kroch and Taylor 2000 and Taylor and van der Wurff 2005, also dealing with verb phrase order in the history of English. Hróarsdóttir 2000 analyzes similar changes in Icelandic verb phrases. Hawkins 1983 and Hróarsdóttir 2009 offer a general treatment of word order universals and change. Kiparsky 1995 analyzes the V2 properties of Germanic in terms of their origins in properties of Proto-Indo-European.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Bean, M. 1983. The development of word order patterns in Old English. London: Croom Helm.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A detailed investigation of the change of SOV to SVO across different clause types, focusing on data from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Canale, M. 1978. Word order change in OE: Base reanalysis in Generative Grammar. PhD diss., McGill University.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Proposes that English underwent a base reanalysis from SOV to SVO in the 13th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Hawkins, J. 1983. Word order universals. New York: Academic Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Argues that implicational universals can make correct predictions for the relative timing and manner of word order changes, but only on the assumption that languages in evolution obey synchronic universals. Develops the idea of cross-categorial harmony in terms of an X-bar theory of phrase structure.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Hróarsdóttir, Þ. 2000. Word order change in Icelandic: From OV to VO. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Analysis of Icelandic VPs at different developmental stages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hróarsdóttir, Þ. 2009. OV languages: Expressions of cues. In Information structure and language change: New approaches to word order variation in Germanic. Edited by R. Hinterhölzl and S. Petrova, 67–90. Berlin: de Gruyter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1515/9783110216110E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Offers a cue-based approach in a general treatment of universals and change in word order.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Kiparsky, P. 1995. Indo-European origins of Germanic syntax. In Clause structure and language change. Edited by A. Battye and I. Roberts, 140–167. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Proposal that in early Germanic languages specifier of CP is a focus position that can co-occur with clause-initial topics, a system that changed minimally from Indo-European.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Kroch, A., and A. Taylor. 2000. Verb-object order in Early Middle English. In Diachronic syntax: Models and mechanisms. Edited by S. Pintzuk, G. Tsoulas, and A. Warner, 132–163. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Evidence for continuity in INFL-medial word order between Old and Middle English, from grammatical and statistical analysis of Early Middle English.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Taylor, A., and W. van der Wurff, eds. 2005. Special issue on aspects of OV and VO order in the history of English. English Language and Linguistics 9.1.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Considers major issues in English historical syntax in connection with OV-VO order change, including the parameter model, EPP properties, pronouns, case marking, and prosody. Articles available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Interfaces

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Work on syntactic change has interconnected with work in many other domains. Interdisciplinary work has been most productive in the areas of computational linguistics, language contact and creolization, morphology, and language acquisition by young children.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Computational Linguistics

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There has been much interesting work on computational models of language change, especially from the perspective of language acquisition. Briscoe 2000, Briscoe 2002, Pearl 2007, and Pearl and Weinberg 2007 offer computational models of language acquisition that can yield explanations for language change. Niyogi 2006 elaborates on an earlier work (Niyogi and Berwick 1997) to provide an impressive outline of the computations of language acquisition that can account for the development of languages over time. Longobardi and Guardiano 2009 uses a mathematical model to propose ways to compute language relatedness on the basis of similarities in parametric syntax settings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Briscoe, E. 2000. Grammatical acquisition: Inductive bias and coevolution of language and the language acquisition device. Language 76.2: 245–296.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Computer simulations of populations of language learners using an acquisitional model show that different acquisition procedures exert different selective pressures on the development of languages. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Briscoe, E., ed. 2002. Linguistic evolution through language acquisition: Formal and computational models. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511486524E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A study of how children acquire language and how this affects language change over generations within an evolutionary theory framework.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Longobardi, G., and C. Guardiano. 2009. Evidence for syntax as a signal of historical relatedness. Lingua 119.11: 1679–1706.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/j.lingua.2008.09.012E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Argues that parametric analyses of grammatical diversity can contribute to the historical classification of languages and serve as indicators of phylogenetic relations. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Niyogi, P. 2006. The computational nature of language learning and evolution. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Creates a mathematical and computational framework in which to examine language change and the evolution of communication systems in the animal world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Niyogi, P., and R. C. Berwick. 1997. A dynamical systems model for language change. Complex Systems 11:161–204.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Computer modeling of sudden versus gradual changes in the loss of V2 from Old to Modern French.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Pearl, L. S. 2007. Necessary bias in natural language learning. PhD diss., University of Maryland.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Computational modeling proposal that learners can succeed in the language acquisition task provided they are biased to use only a subset of the available input; supported by evidence from word order changes in Old English.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Pearl, L., and A. Weinberg. 2007. Input filtering in syntactic acquisition: Answers from language change modeling. Language Learning and Development 3.1: 43–72.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Considers historical change to explore whether children filter their input for language learning. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Language Contact and Creoles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Language contact is sometimes a source of language change, and it is invoked quite differently by different researchers. Some have argued that language contact and bilingualism are the source of all syntactic change, as in Meisel 2011. Others (e.g., Nadkarni 1975) argue that well-analyzed cases of language change through contact are difficult to establish and unusual. A dramatic example of language change being influenced by contact is the emergence of creoles. A central question is whether creoles are inherently exceptional and require special mechanisms, as discussed in Bickerton 1984, or whether they arise in the same essential way as other languages despite relatively impoverished or heterogeneous PLD, as discussed in DeGraff 1999. This issue was at the heart of a vigorous debate in Language (see Bickerton 2004 and DeGraff 2004). Thomason and Kaufman 1988 surveys a broad range of changes reflecting contact between distinct languages, and McWhorter 2001 studies the mechanisms of creolization that arguably predict that creoles reflect simple systems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bickerton, D. 1984. The language bioprogram hypothesis. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 7.2: 173–212.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X00044149E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Evidence from Hawaiian pidgin and creole that creole languages are largely invented by children and show fundamental similarities, which derive from a biological program for language. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Bickerton, D. 2004. Reconsidering creole exceptionalism. Language 80.4: 828–833.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1353/lan.2004.0164E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Shows, in a study of Hawaiian pidgin and creole, how historical and demographic factors interacted to restrict access of pidgin speakers to the dominant language and hence the nature of input to the children of those speakers. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • DeGraff, M., ed. 1999. Language creation and language change: Creolization, diachrony, and development. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A stimulating collection of articles drawing together work on creolization, acquisition, and change.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • DeGraff, M. 2004. Against creole exceptionalism (redux). Language 80.4: 834–839.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1353/lan.2004.0178E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Reiterates arguments against the view that creoles constitute an exceptional class of languages on phylogenetic and/or typological grounds. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • McWhorter, J. 2001. The world’s simplest grammars are creole grammars. Linguistic Typology 5.2–3: 125–165.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Argues that creoles have the simplest grammars, resulting from being created from the basic pieces necessary for communication. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Meisel, J. 2011. Bilingual language acquisition and theories of diachronic change: Bilingualism as cause and effect of grammatical change. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 14.2: 121–145.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/S1366728910000143E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Proposes that grammatical change results generally from the effects of bilingualism. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Nadkarni, M. V. 1975. Bilingualism and syntactic change in Konkani. Language 51.3: 672–683.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/412892E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Examines the mechanism by which a native Indo-European relative clause type is losing ground to a type borrowed from Kannada, a Dravidian language. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Thomason, S. G., and T. Kaufman. 1988. Language contact, creolization, and genetic linguistics. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A comprehensive study of contact-induced language change.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Morphology

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One of the great mysteries in linguistics is the relationship between syntax and morphology. Diachronic syntacticians have studied the relationship between changes in syntax and verb (inflectional) and noun (case) morphology, formulating a wide range of hypotheses and testing and refining many claims from the synchronic literature. Allen 2002, Fischer 2007, Haeberli 2002, and van Kemenade 1987 examine morphological change in the history of English and the syntactic changes that may have been associated with them. Anderson 1977, Thráinsson 2003, and Lightfoot 2002 (cited under Edited Collections) offer theories of how and why syntactic and morphological properties might be related to each other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Allen, C. L. 2002. Case and Middle English genitive noun phrases. In Syntactic effects of morphological change. Edited by D. W. Lightfoot, 57–80. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199250691.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Proposes that introduction of new split genitives in Middle English results from the loss of agreement, and not from the loss of genitive case.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Anderson, S. 1977. On mechanisms by which languages become ergative. In Mechanisms of syntactic change. Edited by C. N. Li. Austin, 317–363: Univ. of Texas Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An ingenious paper providing syntactic reasons for the development of ergative morphology.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Fischer, O. 2007. Morphosyntactic change: Functional and formal perspectives. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A critical analysis of morphosyntactic change and the mechanisms that trigger it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Haeberli, E. 2002. Inflectional morphology and the loss of verb-second in English. In Syntactic effects of morphological change. Edited by D. W. Lightfoot, 88–106. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199250691.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Argues that loss of V2 in early English resulted from the loss of an empty expletive in a higher subject position, in parallel to overt movement of the subject.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Thráinsson, H. 2003. Syntactic variation, historical development and minimalism. In Minimalist syntax. Edited by R. Hendrick, 152–191. Oxford: Blackwell.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1002/9780470758342E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wide-ranging paper with a critical discussion of the rich agreement hypothesis, which correlates verb movement to a higher functional position with rich verb morphology.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • van Kemenade, A.. 1987. Syntactic case and morphological case in the history of English. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Foris.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The first comprehensive generative treatment of Old and Middle English, which was seen to reflect many properties of modern Dutch and German.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Language Acquisition

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Generative approaches to language change have tended to look to language acquisition to understand why changes took place at particular times and under particular conditions. Listed here are some acquisition studies that have engaged with phenomena of change. Clark and Roberts 1993 construes syntactic change as following from a genetic algorithm model of language acquisition. Westergaard 2008 and Westergaard 2009 take cues as learned elements of I-languages (a different interpretation than the one discussed under Cue-Based Acquisition) and asks how they reflect robust elements of a child’s E-language. Pires and Rothman 2009 considers language acquisition in a diglossic environment; Yang 2000 also considers language acquisition in multiglossic environments, and Yang 2002 generalizes these ideas into a comprehensive account of language acquisition that can explain aspects of syntactic change.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Clark, R., and I. Roberts. 1993. A computational model of language learnability and language change. Linguistic Inquiry 24.2: 299–345.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Proposes genetic algorithms as a model of language acquisition and then analyzes parametric changes in the history of French. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Pires, A., and J. Rothman. 2009. Acquisition of Brazilian Portuguese in late childhood: Implications for syntactic theory and language change. In Minimalist inquiries into child and adult language acquisition: Case studies across Portuguese. Edited by A. Pires and J. Rothman, 129–154. Berlin: de Gruyter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1515/9783110215359.1.129E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Provides evidence from late child language acquisition for the ongoing loss of grammatical properties from vernacular dialects of Brazilian Portuguese.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Westergaard, M. 2008. Acquisition and change: On the robustness of the triggering experience for word order cues. Lingua 118.12: 1841–1863.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/j.lingua.2008.05.003E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Focusing on present-day Norwegian dialects, this paper discusses mixed V2 both synchronically and diachronically and develops a theory of language acquisition and change based on micro-cues. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Westergaard, M. 2009. Microvariation as diachrony: A view from acquisition. Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 12.1: 49–79.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1007/s10828-009-9025-9E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Argues, based on spontaneous speech data from adults and children, that variation in V2 word order in wh-questions in present-day Norwegian reflects a diachronic change in progress. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Yang, C. 2000. Internal and external forces in language change. Language Variation and Change 12.3: 231–250.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S0954394500123014E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Explains the loss of V2 in Old French and Old English through a model that an individual’s variable linguistic behavior statistically reflects multiple idealized grammars. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Yang, C. 2002. Knowledge and learning in natural language. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A computational model for child morphosyntactic acquisition supported by aspects of evolutionary biology and evidence from language change.

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