Syntactic Features and the Limits of Syntactic Change

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This volume brings together the latest diachronic research on syntactic features and their role in restricting syntactic change. The chapters address a central theoretical issue in diachronic syntax: Whether syntactic variation can always be attributed to differences in the features of items in the lexicon, as the Borer-Chomsky conjecture proposes. In answering this question, all the chapters develop analyses of syntactic change couched within a formalist framework in which rich hierarchical structures and abstract features of various kinds play an important role. The first three parts of the volume explore the different domains of the clause, namely the C-domain, the T-domain and the ν‎P/VP-domain respectively, while chapters in the final part are concerned with establishing methodology in diachronic syntax and modelling linguistic correspondences. The contributors draw on extensive data from a large number of languages and dialects, including several that have received little attention in the literature on diachronic syntax, such as Romeyka, a Greek variety spoken in Turkey, and Middle Low German, previously spoken in northern Germany. Other languages are explored from a fresh theoretical perspective, including Hungarian, Icelandic, and Austronesian languages. The volume sheds light not only on specific syntactic changes from a cross-linguistic perspective but also on broader issues in language change and linguistic theory.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press, Oxford
Number of pages414
ISBN (Electronic)9780198832584
ISBN (Print)9780198832584
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© editorial matter and organization Johannes Gisli Jonsson and Thorhallur Eythorsson 2021.

Other keywords

  • Abstract features
  • Borer-Chomsky conjecture
  • Diachronic syntax
  • Domains
  • Hierarchical structures
  • Language change
  • Syntactic change
  • Syntactic features


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