This collection of new writing on grammatical change advances research in the field and shows its breadth and liveliness. The study of how and why syntax changes occupies a pivotal position in research into the nature, use, and acquisition of language. It is responsive to theoretical advances in linguistic theory, language acquisition, and theories of language use as well as to less adjacent fields such as statistical techniques and evolutionary biology. Chomsky's Minimalist Programme and Kayne's theories of antisymmetry and overt movement have brought into sharper focus questions concerning the architecture of linguistic theory, and this has had a direct impact on the understanding of the processes of change. Optimality Theory has also begun to raise new questions as it is applied to syntax and historical change. The sociolinguistic causes and consequences of syntactic change have also become newly prominent. These are among the many issues and themes discussed and explored by the authors.
The book's fourteen chapters exemplify work in a wide range of languages, including Germanic (Icelandic and Swedish, as well as Old and Middle English); Romance (Latin, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish); Slavonic; and Chinese. A substantial introduction provides a critical synthesis of the field and sets the following chapters in context. The book is then divided into parts dealing with theoretical frameworks, comparative change, features and categories, and movement. The single collated bibliography to the entire volume is a valuable research tool in itself. Diachronic Syntax is innovative in both theory and method and makes a substantial contribution to its subject. It will be of interest to all those concerned to understand and explain the internal dynamics of language.
`Review from hardback edition
... provides an excellent survey of recent developments in the field ... The editors have assembled a collection of very substantial papers in which extensive databases, sophisticated statistical analyses, and clever theoretical interpretations are abundantly present.'
Journal of Linguistics
1: Susan Pintzuk, George Tsoulas, and Anthony Warner: Syntactic Change: Theory and Method
Part I: Frameworks for the Understanding of Change
2: Nigel Vincent: Competition and Correspondence in Syntactic Change: Null Arguments in Latin and Romance
3: Ans van Kemenade: Jespersen's Cycle Revisited: Formal Properties of Grammaticalization
4: Ted Briscoe: Evolutionary Perspectives on Diachronic Syntax
Part II: The Comparative Basis of Diachronic Syntax
5: Eric Haeberli: Adjuncts and the Syntax of Subjects in Old and Middle English
6: Anthony Kroch and Ann Taylor: Verb-Object Order in Early Middle English
7: Alexander Williams: Null Subjects in Middle English Existentials
Part III: Mechanisms of Syntactic Change
8: Ana Maria Martins: Polarity Items in Romance: Underspecification and Lexical Change
9: John Whitman: Relabelling
10: Montse Batllori and Francesc Roca: The Value of Definite Determiners from Old Spanish to Modern Spanish
11: Lars-Olof Delsing: From OV to VO in Swedish
12: Chung-hye Han: The Evolution of Do-Support in English Imperatives
13: Thorbjörg Hróarsdóttir: Interacting Movements in the History of Icelandic
14: David Willis: Verb Movement in Slavonic Conditionals