Walkden, George

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George
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Abduction or Inertia? : The logic of syntactic change

2010, Walkden, George

Two assumptions often considered principles of inquiry in historical generative syntax are that linguistic change is abductive (Andersen 1973) and that syntax is inert (Longobardi 2001). In this paper it is demonstrated that these two notions, if meaningfully interpreted, are not compatible: if we wish to develop a coherent theory of language acquisition and change, we must abandon one or the other. The conclusion reached is that that neither abduction nor inertia is a necessary or useful concept in diachronic syntax. I suggest that we should abandon both, instead treating syntactic change on its own terms.