Language Grammar

Language Change at the Syntax-Semantics Interface by Agnes Jäger, Doris Penka

By Agnes Jäger, Doris Penka

This quantity makes a speciality of the interaction of syntactic and semantic components in language switch. The contributions draw on information from various Indo-European languages and handle the query of ways syntactic and semantic swap are associated and even if either are ruled via related constraints, rules and systematic mechanisms. the quantity will entice students in ancient linguistics and formal theories of syntax and semantics.

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Extra resources for Language Change at the Syntax-Semantics Interface

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The preference for Merge over Move conditions the directionality of grammaticalization processes, and is compatible, by assuming multiple lexical entries, with the frequent situation where the old lexical item survives alongside the new grammaticalized element. 10 Thus, according to van Gelderen, syntactic and semantic change are tightly interrelated: economy leads to diachronic reduction of interpretable features in the derivation, and this, in turn, affects the syntactic status of elements within a projection, since interpretable features may be reanalyzed as uninterpretable.

The rise of compositional theories of meaning, however, has made a strict separation between lexical and propositional semantics impracticable, and historical research, too, has shifted the focus to structure-sensitive semantic change. Eckardt (2006: 236) has stressed the diachronic importance of compositional principles, which ensure the adaptability of linguistic means to new communicative needs and inextricably tie word meaning to sentence meaning: during the process of semantic reanalysis “the salient overall conveyed information remains the same, but is composed in a different manner.

2 But many other domains have been shown to offer examples of cyclic development too (aspectual forms, modal verbs, indefinite pronouns, among numerous others, cf. van Gelderen 2011 for a recent comprehensive picture). This substantial body of empirical work has highlighted the necessity to integrate the methods and research questions of historical syntax and semantics. g. minimizers in the case of negation, demonstratives in the case of definite articles) and undergo parallel extensions or restrictions in their contexts of use in a stepwise fashion.

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